Although my first book (well, I hope it is the first of many) was published just six months ago, I started writing about 25 years ago. My long, rocky road to publishing had many detours and long stretches of not writing at all. What I did write was consigned mostly to the trash. I mean the garbage can outside the house, not that tiny trash can icon on the screen that eats everything up with a little whoosh.
I started writing with a pen on a yellow legal pad. My daughter-in-law, who had just graduated from college, gave me her electric typewriter. I thought this technological advance was the cat's pajamas.
Then I got a word processor. I loved it, but it frequently had to be sent back to the manufacturer for repairs. When it went down the last time and I couldn't retrieve what I thought was a fairly decent romance, it got recycled.
Then we got a computer, more for its word processing program than the Internet. With dial-up, assessing the Internet was time-consuming and frustrating.
Then we got broadband. In two decades we progressed from the kitty's nightwear to groovy to ace, or whatever the current phrase is.
The best thing about the computer is that it connects me with other writers.
Way back when, I did an unprecedented thing. I took a week's vacation from work, spent $500 and signed up for a writing camp at Duke University. Among the presenters were Reynolds Price and Anthony Abbot -- big names then and now. (I was saddened to hear Price had died. He was a sweet, gentle man and a fantastic writer.)
One day, while eating lunch with other attendees, Josephine Humphries came along and sat down at our table. She showed us some souvenir t-shirts she had purchased for her sons. "Gosh," I recall thinking, "She's a famous writer and she acts just like us!"
Then she asked, "Have any of you ever felt like even your own family doesn't understand you?"
Every hand went up. All of us confessed to feeling isolated as we worked, trying to share with people who had no idea what we were talking about when we moped through a difficult scene or had a sudden breakthrough and yelled "Yes!" to an empty room.
That's what I love about the computer (besides the cut-and-paste feature). I am in contact with other writers. I belong to two on-line groups that e-mail daily. I read blogs by on-line friends I will never meet in real life. We support each other during the rough times and celebrate each other's success. We understand.
And that is why I have a computer. I could still write with a ball point pen and a tablet. But they don't help me connect with other writers.