I originally wrote and posted this on April 10, 2015 for the Blogging A – Z challenge. I reprint it here virtually untouched. If you wish to waste your time comparing it to the original you can find it here.
H is for Heroes
I have several writing heroes; maybe even more than several, but the ones I was thinking of as I got up in the wee sma’s this morning were, L’Amour, Heinlein, Poe, Bradbury and O. Henry. This is a fairly diverse group but their message about writing is always kind of the same. You have to actually do it. This was reinforced to me again in an article on writersdigest.com called “Finding Time to Write” by Linda Lafferty. http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/finding-time-to-write One sentence stood out from all the rest (This is an article worth every wannabe writer’s reading) “When I wailed, ‘I want to be a writer!’ my husband gave me the tough news. ‘Linda—a writer writes.’”
So, here is a story.
Herby, Author Extraordinaire and the Magic Typewriter
Herby, Author Extraordinaire, was a great writer, and he knew it and so did everyone around him. Or, at least they thought they did. He told them he was. No one had ever actually seen a story he had written although his wife had seen a few poems he had made for her and had to admit, if he would actually sit down and work on it, he could probably do great things. She often told him that.
“Herb! Get off that video game and get some writing done! You could probably do great things if you would actually work at it.”
“That’s O. Herby, Author Extraordinaire.”
“Oy! Listen, Mister Author-pants, we need things done around here. You need to get a real job that brings in some real cash or we will really be out on the street with no place to plug your computer in.”
The great author pondered this truth as his wife walked over and pulled the plug on him, he made her so mad.
“You’ve pulled the plug on me!”
“Get a job!” She screamed delicately. “And some milk.”
So O. Herby went job-hunting. As he was out pounding the pavement he saw a man in a long black trench-coat standing in an alley. He had the collar turned up and a broad-brimmed hat pulled low over his face. “Psst. Hey buddy. Come on over here. I’ve got something for you to see.” As O. Herby walked up to the man he noticed that under his coat was a large object, which the man now pulled out.
“Why, that’s a typewriter!”
“Ssshhh. Not so loud,” said the man, his shifty eyes looking around to see if anyone had heard, “Everyone will want one.”
“Sorry, pal, but this is the twenty-first century, we have computers now. Besides, why all this cloak and dagger stuff? So what, you have a typewriter.”
“But this isn’t just any typewriter, buddy, this is a magic typewriter. It writes the stories by itself.”
“Really? Come on.”
“Do I look like the kind of guy who would trick you?”
“I picked you because you looked like the intelligent, author-ly type, but maybe I was wrong. You don’t want a magic typewriter, fine, I won’t let you have it.”
“I’m not the rich, author-ly type. Not yet anyway.”
“How much money you got?”
“Four dollars to buy a gallon of milk.”
“I’ll sell you this magic typewriter for only three dollars and ninety-five cents.”
“My wife will kill me. She already pulled the plug on me this morning.”
“Tell ya what I’m gonna do. For you, today only, I’ll give it away to you for two dollars. You can price-match the milk at Walmart for a dollar ninety-nine and have a penny left over. A penny,” he added, “For your thoughts.”
The brilliant writer thought about the offer, but being as wise as he was, he knew he had to check the deal out some more. “Yeah, but does it have all the keys and a ribbon and everything?”
“You are a shrewd businessman. Yes, all the keys work and it even comes with, get this, a spare ribbon and one of those eraser pencils with the brush on top.”
This was too much. O. Herby bought the magic typewriter and ran home to his wife.
“Oh, Herby! I send you to the store for milk and you stop at the junk store and buy this instead?”
“I didn’t stop at the store, and I still have enough money to buy milk.”
She just stood there and shook her head as he told her the whole story. He had really gone off the deep end this time. She sighed. “Fine. I’ll go to the store; you set up your magic typewriter and show me how it works when I get back.”
He stared at his new treasure and wondered what he was supposed to do next. He knew his wife would look for the guy who had sold it to him and for some reason he didn’t believe she would find him. He looked back on the whole transaction and wondered if maybe he hadn’t been a little hasty. But yet, the guy could have been a magician or sorcerer as easily as he might have been a shyster.
There was a little table and chair that sat by the back window. He could see the sky and the birdbath and it was just a nice, relaxing little spot. He set the typewriter on it and scrolled a piece of paper into it, trying to hearken back to the typing class he took in high school back in the seventies. He set the margins and tabs and indents as best as he could remember.
Then he sat back and watched. He was still sitting and watching when his wife came home with the gallon of milk. For the first several days he watched and waited as nothing continued happening.
He did notice on the second day that a small pair of finches had begun building a nest in the patio light fixture. He liked the little brown birds with the red heads and jotted a note to himself to think of ways to describe them.
On the third day he discovered that they must have been there for a while because there were three or four hatchlings making noise.
On the fourth day the phone rang and he was called for a job interview. This made his wife extremely happy, of course, but she would miss their little adventures of watching the birds.
Herby, Author Extraordinaire soon became one of the top salesmen at the department store he worked at and all should have been peaceful and happy, except that every evening when he came home, he would sit in front of the magic typewriter. He would watch the birds and talk to his wife but even then he kept a weather eye out on the typewriter. He had no idea how to make the thing work, but he knew, deep inside, that there must be some secret to it. He’d tried talking to it, waving his hands around it, praying for it, focusing a mental beam on it, just any kind of idea that struck his fancy. He jotted these in his notebook as well.
His wife came to him one day, “I have been thinking about this magic typewriter. You know, you have tried a lot of different things, but there is one thing you haven’t tried.”
“Well,” she said, sticking her tongue firmly in her cheek, choosing her words carefully so as not to bruise his tender ego. Actually, him sitting and watching the birds and jotting down their activities every day and his jotting down everything he had done to get the magic typewriter to work was the best progress he had made in a very long time. She didn’t want him to lose that, and she knew what he was capable of if he could only just get it going, “I seem to remember reading somewhere that some types of magical objects needed human interaction to work. Like Aladdin inadvertently rubbing the lamp. Or advanced alien technologies that only seem like magic to us because they are so advanced, but a person discovers an ancient alien device and accidentally pushes a button. Maybe, just maybe, you could try typing a few sentences out on the magic typewriter and see if maybe, just maybe, you could hit the right keys and make it work. The momma bird is going to push the babies out within the next couple of days. Perhaps you could set that as the day you start trying a new thing?”
There was a lot of wisdom in what she said, as there usually was. His wife was one of the smartest, wisest women he had ever met; after all, she had married him, hadn’t she? “Okay. I will try something new then.”
The day came and they watched and laughed as one by one the babies were pushed out into a new life, a life of their own. What if his wife was right and the magic typewriter was just waiting for him. She kissed him on the cheek and left to go to her ladies’ meeting, then out to lunch with her girlfriends. He was off work and pretty much had the day to himself. He filled his coffee mug and took a deep breath, setting his fingers on the home row of keys. He typed:
The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog.
How quickly daft jumping zebras vex.
He liked typing the pangrams on the page and they looked nice on the page. They also stretched his fingers. He typed a couple more, then took a bold and daring step. He was feeling good, inspired, fun loving. His wife was write. He could feel the magic of interacting with the machine and letting go of his imagination. He turned the knob and removed the sheet of paper that was in the machine and put in a clean fresh sheet. His fingers were flying and his mind was going a hundred miles an hour. He could feel the power, the power of the pen, the power of imagination as he began typing on the blank page, “O. Herby, Author Extraordinaire, was a great writer, and he knew it and so did everyone around him…”
Years had gone by and his wife’s advice was what had turned out to be the real magic. He had become rich and famous but still lived in the same place. While the Bentley was in the shop one day he decided to stroll around the old neighborhood. A chill went up and down his spine and the hair on the back of his head bristled. There in the alley stood the same man, black trench coat, collar turned up, hat pulled down. He motioned to O. Herby, Author Extraordinaire, who walked over in a daze.
“Psst. Hey buddy. Come on over here.”
“See, I told you it was magic.”