Tuesday, October 11, 2011

1957-1959: underground in new jersey

I've never read a Stephen King novel, but I've seen several of the movie versions of his novels, enough to know that I probably don't need to read any of them.  But I'm now reading his non-fiction book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, which is a little bit autobiography and a lot about his thoughts on the creative process, about writing.  And I'm enjoying the book a lot, being a frustrated would-be writer all my life.

I wouldn't have expected to have much in common with Stephen King, horror story writer, but here's something:  When he was in elementary school, he and his brother had a sort of underground newspaper that they passed around school (and sometimes got in trouble with).  To print the copies, they used a hectograph, a gelatin printing process thing which most of you have never heard of and which I had sort of forgotten ever existed.  You can't imagine, thinking back, how primitive they were.

And how I know about them is that I used to have one.  I had an unauthorized newspaper back in school (which occasionally got me in minor trouble), 4th grade through 6th grade, when I was a student at the Vineland Christian School. My newspaper had the important-sounding name of the Cumberland County Press, and for the first few editions I used a hectograph, which my dad got for me somewhere, to print the copies.  He must have seen that I was struggling to come up with a quality product using that messy thing, so he found me a used mimeograph machine somewhere, which was messy in its own way (typing onto stencils, inking up the machine) but light-years beyond the capabilities of the hectograph.  My little newspaper, which I operated out of our dingy cellar,  became sort of a gritty alternative to the school newspaper, The Sunbeam.

Think what I (or Stephen King!) could have done with desktop publishing!

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