The Perfect Gift
Written by
Doreen McGettigan
January 2011
Written by
Doreen McGettigan
January 2011

Of all the new fangled electronic gadgets to choose from this past holiday season it would have been difficult to go wrong when selecting a gift for the writer in your life.

When I attended high school in Bucks County, Pa.  in the 70′s {yikes} we had a class called typing.  I hated that class.  Not the best class to hate if you were an aspiring writer.

My grades were excellent in English, Math, History, Science and Health.  When it came to typing I just could not do it…the right way.

As a young mother I pulled out the old (very old even then) typewriter.  The one with the lazy T.  I had every intention of teaching myself to type.  I did okay but managed to still do most of it my way.  Whenever my little daughter slept I would tap a tap, tap on those keys.  I was going to be a writer.

In 1985 the perfect gift for me was the brand new electric Brother typewriter.  It was just what I needed to start my first “writing”  job.  I was covering the school board meetings and counsel meetings for the “Bristol Pilot”.

I spent so much time , which really makes me smile now, hand writing each article it was nearly impossible to for me to type fast enough to make deadline.  I enlisted the help of my dear friend Tina who had actually payed attention in typing classss.

When I was promoted to Feature Writer at the “Bensalem Bulletin”; my daughter’s boyfriend’s father(now her father-in-law) gave me a word processor.  I loved it and did a lot of practicing (my way of course).

With that old word processor I wrote my first book.  Actually I wrote the book by hand and then typed it into the word processor.  I will re-visit that project one day.

Then came the job at the “Bucks County Courier Times”.  This job was in specialty advertising and for this job it had to be a computer.  Not only did I get a computer but I got a home office to put it in.  The space was very inspirational.

With that computer came a “learn to type” program….lets just say I am really fast but still do it my way.

On this new fangled machine I wrote my second book.  It was a  children’s story.  I wrote it for my foster daughter Danielle.  It got local attention and I was thrilled.

The internet was still new so armed with my writers market I banged out magazine article after article.  This was my rejection apprenticeship.  It was also my preparation for the successes which were few and far between but oh so sweet when they happened.

I wrote a third book.  It was really hard back then to send your query and SASE to one agency at a time and then wait weeks for a no or the elusive request for a partial.  That project cracks me up now and I may revisit it as a comedy.

It was around this time I got my first laptop.  It was basically useless but I was oh so cool.

In 1998 my younger brother was murdered.  My experience with the justice system was exasperating.  I was so furious and had no idea what to do with my anger and frustration.  I decided to journal.  This was a habit I picked up as a teenager.

When I became so infuriated with our district attorney and it took me a month to find out who her boss was that journal on my nightstand was screaming for me to make it more.

The internet had become a big deal and connections were much faster.  This called for the gift of a new computer and faster internet service.

I put these gifts to good use, I queried my book outline and received positive feedback.  During this time I was also using the internet to attend school, started a new business and discovered online dating.

Being so busy I needed a new laptop.  This one was a bit more useful.

I was very busy but pledged to take my writing seriously and to write something everyday.  Sometimes the words went from my heart to  my brain to my fingertips with the speed of a freight train.  Other times I would stare at a black screen until I gave in and played scrabble blast.  Yet there were other times the tears poured and just clouded my vision.

Just about the time my first complete draft was finished, my computer crashed.  I had not done frequent enough back-ups and lost a lot.

My life was so busy in other areas the “book” was put on hold.

Fast forward to a new home, a new job, a new computer and faster internet service and I was back in the book writing business.

I had also finished school and started taking SAC (sexual assault counseling) classes hoping to be certified.

I dedicated two hours a night to writing and was typing like a machine. More than once I woke up in the morning still sitting at my desk fingers numb and my hand full of bible cysts.

The “story” was getting to me and I needed an emotional break.  I wrote a few happier things.  I went back to internet dating and with a full dance card and ridiculous work hours my writing really slacked.

Fast forward again to a new husband, new home and no new job other than the blessing of being able to care for my dear mother-in-law.

My husband insisted I take advantage of any free time I had to “work” on the book.  Before long I had a draft that I felt was good enough to be sent out.

Times had really changed and the “book” business was really changing.  Most agencies accepted submissions through e-mail.  Year back I had received such positive feedback I just knew it would be no time before I had the best agent and an awesome publishing deal.  Yeah right.

I studied the craft of the query letter, read and was compelled not to give in to rejection. (more on this next week).

When the contracts started to arrive, three in all, my computer crashed again.  I was slightly better and back ups.  My amazing husband found a smart person and I was saved….breathe….

I also received the gift of the newest version of word, finally.

When we found out we would be traveling to Oklahoma to meet my production team, my dream of a husband hired a consultant(can you imagine) to help him choose the absolute perfect laptop so I would {look} like a real {writer}.  I tell you I married well.

So with all of the obvious kindle’s, I-books, smart phones and obviously can’t go wrong writer and reader gifts to choose from did my husband take the easy way out and just pick one?  No, of course not because he is brilliant!

With all of those choices any writer would be thrilled with , this Christmas my husband bought me the most “amazing” gift this “writer” could have ever received.

My husband surprised me with a retro (1951) Harley Davidson diamond studded (did I mention it was pink) pen.  “For your book signings”, he whispered. (insert tears here.

Now okay it is the coolest pen ever and it will always be special but what this pen represents to me is magic.  “He believes in me” {insert more tears}.  I love him, I love him, I love him!

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