Today, January 8, is my father Albert’s birthday. His encouragement is one of the reasons I became a writer. Here’s how it all started:
In our apartment, the dining room was my father’s office. In it was a big black desk anchored like a ship in a small ocean of papers and books. My dad was a writer when I was little and that was where he worked. I didn’t know what working was, but I knew it was important, because when he did it, we had to be quiet.
At three or so, I was just tall enough to peek over the edge of his desk and survey its exotic treasures: Pens! Pencils! Paperclips! Pudgy pink erasers! Pads of yellow paper! Writing had to be fun, that much I knew. Because when you were doing it, you could be very messy and no one gave you a hard time about it. In fact, the messier you were, the more you were working and the harder you were writing.
One day, a miracle occurred. My dad handed me one of his beautiful, brand-new yellow legal pads – the golden fleece, it seemed to me – and a shiny yellow pencil with its very own pink eraser on top. “I want you to write a letter to my editor, Mrs. Pumpernickel. Tell her I need more money!” my father said.
No matter that I didn’t know what an editor was or what money was or where to find Mrs. Pumpernickel. No matter that I didn’t know the alphabet or how to read. I was writing! I took my shiny pencil in hand and set to work, covering page after page of my legal pad with bold, confident squiggles. I finished my letter and handed it to my father. He looked over my chicken scratches carefully, nodding as if he understood every word perfectly. I couldn’t have been prouder if I’d won the Pulitzer! Then he fished in a desk drawer, pulled out a gleaming white envelope, and tucked my letter inside. “We need to mail this right away,” my dad said. What a thrill! I was hooked — and I’ve been writing ever since.
Dear Karin, this memory was delightful and reminded me of my dad toiling away on a manual Royal typewriter with yellow pads surrounding him in our basement. I’m still using yellow pads to scratch out stories! Thanks for the daily helpers.
Thanks for sharing your lovely memories of your dad! How wonderful that you are still turning to the golden fleece, the yellow pad, to craft your stories!