As you’ve no doubt figured out, I do a lot of writing. This all started when I hit the yard at USP Florence in 2000. Writing served a two-fold purpose. First, I needed to keep my mind busy and writing, along with art helped fill the endless hours of those first few years. Second, writing was, well not so much a record on my thoughts, though it surely was that too, but, it was also a way of monitoring my emotions, emotions are a detriment in prison. So writing became my therapy and my personal counseling tool. You can see the wide range of all those emotional years in real time in my prison journal, now in book form, called, “Where No One Hears Me” – my friend Sue in Missouri actually named that book :). Point is – I’ve never stopped writing and continue to this day.
Over the years as my writings took form I had to hire people to type out my manuscripts; there are men in here who type books, legal work, letters or anything else a man is willing to pay for. No, its actually pretty cheap, cheap like a dollar a handwritten page. Now with my earlier books, I didn’t have the money to pay to have a book typed all at once so I’d piece it out 20 pages here and 20 pages there, eventually getting a whole manuscript completed. Then I’d hoard that manuscript in my locker until – well, until someone was interested in it – I’m laughing because their hasn’t been any interest yet!! 🙂 Yeah, my first book was garbage but it kept my mind occupied for a year, so that’s a good thing right! Plus I learned from it, so I eventually became a better writer.
During those 10 plus years at USP Florence I wrote five complete books, paid to have them typed and stored them away for the day when I would figure out what to do with them. I always considered them as I do my 200 pieces of art, an investment in my future, money in the bank for the day when they become valuable.
I continue to write.
A couple of months ago the Education Department here at 3rvs offered an, in the cell, typing class – so, you guessed it, I signed up. They issued me a little keyboard thing called “V Tech Keyboard Wizard” and it came with an instructional manual, complete with some lessons on typing. Man, I was so happy; I had always wanted to learn how to type. When I was issued mine I went to work banging away – my goal was to be able to type without looking at the keyboard, that and I dreamed of being able to type 30 words a minute – humble, achievable goals. Surely, even a computer dinosaur like me could accomplish that, right?
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When I was a kid my third grade teacher knew 3 things about me, one I was skinny, two, I was ugly and three, I had trouble reading … yeah, I had trouble reading … Really dude, THAT’S what you want to debate here? You’ll accept the fact that I was UGLY!! but you want to argue about my reading ability, man y’all take the cake!! Anyway.
Nowadays I hear about kids who are diagnosed as, Dyslectic, their brains see words backwards, or something like that. Anyway, I had something similar, but instead of my brain seeing words backwards, it instead, would jump down while I was reading. Yeah, I’d be reading a sentence and my eyes, or my brain, would jump down to the sentence below it – and for some reason, I didn’t realize it. I would keep reading, just in the wrong place. Yeah, I know, you’d think I’d register that I’m skipping part of the story, but I didn’t, ever.
No one ever explained to me any of this till I was in the 3rd grade. It was at this point that my teacher ( God bless teachers) flagged me and I was put into a special education class where my problem was identified.
In this special-ed class they put me in front of this box that looked kind of like a TV – an early computer? Maybe, but considering that this was like, 1964! I doubt it. Anyway, I remember that on the screen of this TV/something, were paragraphs and sentences. I was taught to use my finger to train my brain to follow the sentence I was reading. Day after day, week after week I sat in that class until my eyes were trained, and with the help of my trusty finger, my problem was solved. The good news is, by the time I graduated that class I was an excellent reader – the best in my class. Yeah, I was still ugly and skinny, but I was a bad-assed reader. I remember my teacher always calling on me to read out loud – I’d stand and with my finger as a guide, read beautifully – I was very proud.
So. In the evenings after work I, using my V-Tech Wizard, began to teach myself to type. Yeah, it actually frigging worked! After about two weeks I could type without looking at the keys and then for my last two weeks (it was a one month loan on the V-Tech Wizard) I perfected my skills and worked on my speed. As we speak, I’m burning up the keys … sort of.
This keyboard wizard machine did have a function on it, a “speed” button, that was supposed to tell you how many words a minute you’re typing, but I never could get it to work … “Instructions” yeah, I read the instructions … WAS THAT LIGHTNING!! Ok, I didn’t ACTUALLY read the directions … I’m a man, no matter how good of a reader we are, we DON’T read the instructions for anything … well, maybe a Sex Manual or two but that’s about it … WAS THAT LIGHTNING!! OK!! I just look at the pictures in those, but my point remains the same, I have no idea how many words a minute I can type … yeah, their were no pictures in the V-Tech Wizard booklet. But, I estimate that I can type about 20 words a minute.
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Recently I started a new book called “A Wasted Life”. I won’t bore you with the details, but I will tell you that I have put the first three chapters of it out for you to read and evaluate. My point to all of this is, that I typed all three of the chapters you will read, by MYSELF.
After I typed these three chapters, I paid to print them (15 cents a page at the Library) then I started to proof read my work. And, being the smart reader you are, you’ve already figured out what I saw. Yes, ma’am. With both hands on the keys my brain skipped parts of sentences here and there. Yeah, it was a nightmare to fix. No, I’m laughing. It’s the irony of it that is so humorous. Guess my dream of being a typist ain’t going to happen.
Well, there’s my little story. FYI, it took me a months pay to type and repair those three chapters 🙂 (we have to pay 5 cents a minute to use the email), so I hope you take the time to read my intro to my new book, A Wasted Life, it cost me a fortune 🙂
Peace be with you. As always I ask you to pass this on to your own FB friends.
Three Rivers, 1-7-21