The following and all of the other episodes to come are snapshots of what goes on in my head, now and in the past. There are times none of this will make sense. There will be times when I might get lucky and the blog I post will be well constructed and will flow like a mountain stream to an awaiting lake below. Other times it will seem like the ramblings of a madman and you’ll ask yourself, “What the……?”
You should probably get used to the latter.
EPISODE ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY TWO: THE PAUSE OF THE CLACK
“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it.
That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”
― Octavia E. Butler
“You may delay, but time will not.”
When I was really young, I had no idea I wanted to write. I was too interested in playing with toys, going outside, or (curse it all) watching TV. I did like to read or, at the very least, look at the pictures. Dr. Seuss was a big draw for my eyes. The colors and easy to read words was inviting. It made me WANT to read.
Then, I discovered comic books. Spider-Man, Daredevil, Batman, and The Black Panther were my top favorites. I would read them over and over and at that young, impressionable age, I got something out of them every time I scanned the pages. And then the words weren’t just words. They started to make sense to me. I started to get drawn into the emotions of what was trying to be put forth on each page, each panel.
I started to take these insights into how I played and used my imagination. My ‘stories’ that I acted out in my bedroom, in the den, and in my yard were becoming more complex. I was breaking down the actions of how invisible characters that I invented or borrowed from comic books, TV shows, or movies should act in a particular fantasy play that I was mentally writing. If something didn’t work or ‘seem right’, I would act it out again but differently until it seemed to jell.
That was pretty advanced thinking for a kid whose age was still in the single digits.
So, that brings up something I have stated before. I’ll give a quick run-through for those that haven’t already read this in a previous blog post or heard me say it.
There used to be a TV show that I LOVED. The A-Team. Howling Mad Murdock was my favorite character and I idolized him. One day, I get the bright idea that, if I can’t be on the show, I’d write my own story. I took a pencil to paper and started to write, misspellings and all. I got to about eighty pages before losing gas. I came to a difficult spot and lost interest.
But that made me realize that I enjoyed it. Hell, I LOVED it. I started writing all of the time. There were some stories that were complete crap but there were a few that I loved and finished to the end. I knew this was what I wanted to do.
There was something holding me back.
One word that comes to my mind that describes my handwriting is atrocious. I always wanted to pursue drawing and art but after looking at my handwriting, I figured it would look just as atrocious.
I was at a crossroads. Do I keep writing in my horrible, broken-handed scrawl or do I find another way?
I found another way.
My dad had a huge desktop typewriter that I loved to type on when I was just barely able to walk. He’d sit me on his lap and let me bang away at the keys. I had no idea what I was doing but I seemed to love the sound of the clacky it would make, that I would make. My love of typewriters started there in the sounds it made.
I found some space in my room (we had just moved out into the country and my room was bigger) and placed a small table and with my heart pumping, I go ask my dad if I can borrow the typewriter. He asked why and I tell him. My handwriting sucks and I want to write on the typewriter. Maybe he saw the determination in my eyes. Maybe he hoped his son would would become a famous writer because of this behemoth of a typewriter. Maybe he had a long day and needed some peace.
He said sure. But don’t tear it up.
I ran to his room and heaved this ten-ton typewriter into my room. I made it to the table and got it safely on but I had to lie down on the floor afterword. I thought my back was going to break.
And I typed. And typed. A typed.
CLACK, CLACK, CLACK.
I eventually had to stop when my parents went to bed. They didn’t want to be assaulted by that noise while they tried to sleep.
(Let me say, it was already stressful in the house at this time. My parents were fighting a lot or not speaking to each other and their divorce was in the future.)
And that’s the way it went for a while. I typed my stories. Weekdays, weeknights, weekends. I typed after I got home from school or during the Summer. I typed one memorable night on a weekend while it snowed outside. I’d take breaks and step on onto the porch in my pj’s and watch it until I couldn’t stand it anymore. Then back inside to warm up and hit the typewriter again until I was told to stop.
Then the divorce came. I stayed with my dad and we had to sell the house and move. We had to get rid of what we could to move into the smaller house. And since it was still my dad’s typewriter, he felt the need to get rid of it to lessen the load. Our neighbor ended up getting it and I never saw it again. And I understood but it nearly broke my heart to do so. And, I have to admit, I was a little mad that he didn’t warn me first and didn’t give me the chance to somehow keep it.
But, like I said, it wasn’t mine to keep.
Time clicked by. My writing became less and less. I worked and dated. Regular teenage stuff. Occasionally I would write some horrible poems or some really short story but my heart wasn’t in it.
I discovered my love for writing again. This was the era of computers and amazing software that could tell you if you misspelled something or used the wrong punctuation. I started to use writing as a therapy. I wrote my blog (this blog) and the love of fiction writing came back.
And I still thought about that typewriter from long ago.
As of this writing, I don’t know where it went. I figured it’s at the landfill or rusted beyond recognition in some garage somewhere.
But I thought I would find one like it. I wanted to have it back, even if it wasn’t THE one. I turned to eBay and searched and searched. I couldn’t find one like it.
Then I went to Etsy. That was a long shot. At the time, it was mostly people selling handmade items. But I searched typewriters and found quite a few. And after two minutes of scrolling, I found one.
And it was an exact model.
I bought it. The shipping cost was more than the price of the typewriter.
I came home from work one day to find this huge box sitting next to my front door. At first, I was worried it could have got stolen but once I tried picking it up, I knew no porch pirate would take their time to try and pick up this deadweight.
I got it inside and ripped the box and the stuffing away from the typewriter and I stopped in astonishment.
I was looking at my past. If I didn’t know better, this was the exact same typewriter.
But, of course, it wasn’t. This one came from Indiana and the one my dad had was… somewhere else.
Now, it doesn’t work properly. The carriage doesn’t move like it should and maybe one day when I have the room and take the time, I’ll get this sucker working again.
but it helped inspire me to keep writing.
And get more typewriters to my wife’s chagrin.
The pause I had from clacking the keys is no more. I find myself looking for ways to continue clacking. Writing letters to people has become the norm. I find myself excited to sit down at the table and think about writing each letter before my fingers peck away.
The pause is over.
The clacking continues.
I do want to say something else.
I know there’s no way this is the same typewriter. It can’t be.
But… once I was carrying the typewriter to another place in my room. I wanted to type by the window. In doing so, I dropped it on its side, nearly breaking my foot. I left a mark on it. I thought my dad was going to kill me. But we saw that it continued to type and no real harm was done. I was told to be careful and that was all that was said.
Exactly where this damage is.
Yeah. I know. That’s a place that probably got scratched up a lot. Or damaged. This wasn’t the first typewriter of its model to get screwed up in that exact place.
… it’s possible.
-Loyd Elmore Jr
July 24th, 2020
I’ve decided to keep a blog about how I’m dealing with depression. I’m going to consider this a form of therapy. It might not help anybody else but it might help me.