The Olden Days

Transcribing The Man for the Job in preparation for publishing it as an e-book has brought back memories of how we used to write books. I used a typewriter, and Tippex. Lots of Tippex. Maybe I even used carbon paper. Remember carbon paper? I hope you didn’t have shares.  Related image

I can’t recall which book was my first written on a computer but I do remember very clearly going to London to deliver Future Homemakers to my agent, realising I hadn’t paginated the damned thing and sitting in a cafe at King’s Cross station feverishly adding page numbers in biro. I used to deliver journalism as hard copy too, although at the time I’d never heard the expression ‘hard copy’. I’d type it on the old Zeiss, cut and paste on the kitchen table, re-type it and then run across Christ’s Pieces to the Post Office to catch the last mail collection. And if I didn’t make it in time, I’d dictate the piece over the phone to a copy-taker, which felt terribly glamorous, like I was a foreign correspondent.

Getting a computer was a very big deal. I paid for it in installments and saved my work on floppy disks. Remember those? Typewriter ribbons, Tippex, carbon paper  – tools of the trade in the olden days – and now even floppy disks seem quaint. The world before the verb ‘to ping’ had ever been uttered. Now I save my work to a neat little memory stick. Also to a cloud. No, please don’t ask me because I have absolutely no idea.


  1. Avril Silk on January 17, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    For ten wondrous years a gaggle of us here in the wilds of Somerset produced a feminist magazine on the kitchen table; really cutting, really pasting. By the final issue we were just coming to terms with QuarkXpress. Had I known then all that I know now about computers, the job would have been a lot easier and quicker, but rather solitary.

    I remember my favourite typo; I’d written ‘my love of life will return’. Some bright spark left out the ‘of’.

    Delighted to see Catherine Ryan Howard on this page. ‘Distress Signals’ is a terrific book.

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