SPECIAL MESSAGE: entries for the drawing will be accepted through midnight Eastern time on Friday, October 4. Then Shadow will pick the winner and I’ll email that person and also post the information in the comments section. Good luck everyone.
Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett here, contemplating the lasting influence of the things I learned in high school. To be truthful, my fondest memories aren’t of classes, but rather of the junior and senior class plays and the school-wide musical we put on. The teachers involved in those weren’t the same ones who taught the courses I had to take for a Regents diploma. Instead they offered instruction in art and music and encouraged those who participated in drama as an extra-curricular activity to develop self-confidence and reach for the sky.
In addition to English, history, math, and sciences, there was a tiny bit of time left over for electives. I did take one art class, but that’s not the subject of this post. The most useful class I took in high school, hands down, was personal typing.
This was the mid-1960s, so we sat at huge old manual typewriters while the teacher, Mrs. Calhoun, paced between the aisles correcting posture and hand position and occasionally expressing the opinion that we were wasting our time learning to type if we weren’t planning to work in an office. I can’t remember now how I felt about that, but thinking back on the experience, I can see that it had certain similarities to the piano lessons I took for a few years as a kid. I was never able to master that particular musical instrument, but I did develop a modest proficiency on the typewriter keyboard.
The skill has stood me in good stead ever since. The first typewriter I owned was a portable Smith Corona, still a manual. In college, I made extra money typing papers for other students. I wasn’t the best typist going, but I was a wiz with white-out, even on carbon copies.
When I got serious about a writing career, although it would still be several years before I sold anything, I bought an office model manual typewriter. It was huge, and heavy, but I wrote my first three published books on it, as well as a fair number of unsold projects—everything from science fiction short stories to very long, very bad historical novels.
I never did get the hang of electric typewriters, although I did own a portable one for a while. I had to use an IBM Selectric when I worked at the University of Maine’s Mantor Library back in the 1980s and I hated it. It just plain went too fast for me. My fingers got tangled up and the typos multiplied. Even with “correction ribbon” that was no fun.
Then along came the personal computer. I made a smooth transition to the keyboard of a Tandy 1000. Through a fair number of pc models since, I’ve never looked back. My fingers aren’t as agile as they used to be, so I make even more mistakes, but it’s oh-so-easy to correct them now. I hope Mrs. Calhoun would be proud. I use the skill she taught me every day, and I have sixty published books and numerous short stories to show for it.
What was the most useful class you took in high school? Leave a comment to answer that question and you’ll be entered in a drawing to receive an advance reading copy of my January title, A View to a Kilt.
With the June 2019 publication of Clause & Effect, Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett has had sixty books traditionally published. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries and the “Deadly Edits” series as Kaitlyn. As Kathy, her most recent book is a collection of short stories, Different Times, Different Crimes. Her websites are www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com and she maintains a website about women who lived in England between 1485 and 1603 at A Who’s Who of Tudor Women.