Timeline Story: 1. How It All Started

This post begins a series of posts sharing my

Timeline Story

, a look at the events, experiences and occupations that have contributed to shaping my business and writing life to the present.

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During what we call today the preschool years, it all started--with paper dolls. Yes, paper dolls. As you may have read in an earlier post here and my bio here, my father had a long career in printing and publishing. Post-World War II, the publisher contracted with a company for printing paper dolls. This meant Daddy brought home proof pages to me before the paper doll books ever made it to the retail shelves.

Queen Elizabeth II Paperdolls
Queen Elizabeth II Paperdolls

One set which lingers in my memory was the paper doll book issued following Queen Elizabeth II's coronation. I sat in front of our first TV fascinated with the princess's coronation and parade. Not long after, Daddy brought home proofs of the paper doll set his company had printed. I looked in awe at the realistic images on those galley proofs. At that time, I didn't know a galley proof from any other proof or even a book of paper dolls. But for me, it was excitement to hold the paper dolls  before any of my little girlfriends.

And something else caught my attention. The smell and feel of ink bonded to paper. When I asked Daddy what I smelled, he replied, "My life's blood. It's how I make money to care for our family." Then I asked about the feel. Daddy told me what I felt was like fine silk, only not made from caterpillars but trees.

Today, I believe the smell and feeling of those first memories near the printing and publishing industry run through my veins. Those senses began my love of seeing words in print and the feel of the paper in my hands.

Example of grade school handwriting paper with alphabet
Example of grade school handwriting paper with alphabet

Soon I began school. My mother had beautiful handwriting and despite her poor hearing and eyesight, someone in her short educational life must have spent a good deal of time teaching her to write. Mama was insistent that I spend time each day on my "writing." Then "writing" meant copying the letters of the alphabet over and over.

Dad at a linotype machine around 1953
Dad at a linotype machine around 1953

Finally, one day in the first grade the teacher told us we were going to learn to write words. This was exciting. I knew words were what Daddy read to me from my Little Golden Books and the Sunday funnies. But how did a person make a word on paper? At Daddy's printing business, words were put on paper by big presses. I couldn't possibly do that--I was only six years old.

But I began writing words on paper. It was magical! With a pencil and paper, I could write words. Maybe some day I could write a story, maybe a book. I couldn't wait to see where this new ability to write words would take me.

UP NEXT: My first essay submission and its impact on my writing today.