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Christine DeSmet Asks What Skill Shaped Your Life?

Christine DeSmet writes about pink fudge in her series of mysteries set in Wisconsin. You can find out more about her here.

On a very busy day recently I asked myself: How do I get all of this stuff done? And, why and how did I become who I am?

Book cover of Deadly Fudge Divas By Christine DeSmet

In my Fudge Shop Mystery Series, my character of Ava Oosterling credits knowing how to make fudge as her savior for organizing her life and bringing satisfaction if not success as well.

I credit typing in my life.

Writing my Fudge Shop Mystery Series is only one aspect of my writing life. Daily I’m coaching writers, which involves a lot of emails and emailed reports. I also critique material for my adult online writing students, and that involves a lot of typed notes. I also type marketing materials advertising classes. There are days when I type maybe 30 or more single-spaced pages of material.

I learned what’s called “touch typing”—no looking at the keys—in high school when there were “Typing 1” and “Typing 2” classes. These days, Common Core standards say Third Grade students should be able to produce and publish writing using “keyboarding” skills. By Grade 4, students have to produce one page of typed material in one sitting. By Grade 5, that increases to two pages. Children in kindergarten learn keyboarding now, and there are maybe 25 or more software games that help kids learn the QWERTY keyboard.

In Wisconsin, keyboarding must be taught by a licensed business education teacher with a license in keyboarding (previously called typing). I remember Mrs. Hodgson standing with her stopwatch at the head of my classroom at Barneveld High School in Barneveld, Wis. I recall speeds of 60-plus words-per-minute were considered very fine, and I’d heard of people doing 90-plus words-per-minute. Kids are measured at “five words per minute per grade level.” That means a student in Grade 3 should be able to type 15 words per minute.

I’m at the speedy end of adult speeds. I tend to touch type at the speed of real-time story conjuring or movie watching or more. At a retreat once, one of my fellow authors said she stopped and just watched my fingers fly because she’d never seen that before. Many people do what’s called “hunt-and-peck” typing, which is okay! Me? Speed!

Plate of pink fudge

Speedy typing and accuracy were drummed into me in college because I was a Journalism student in the era when we still had typewriters in the news classrooms. You got points taken off for mistakes, and you had deadlines so there was no time to stop to apply correction fluid and re-type something.

Typing is a valued skill again. There are now “type-ins” where people bring typewriters and in a social forum they type together. Besides the wonderful feel of fingers flying over keys, there’s the sound of the “clack” and “click” and even the occasional “ding” that people love.

Long ago, typing was considered “gender specific.” Only women took typing classes because they would become “secretaries” and type material for male bosses. Today, our machines and communication devices require us to become adept at typing, er, keyboarding. For me, touch typing was and is my lifeblood skill.

What skill shaped your life?

Christine DeSmet, from Fitchburg, Wisconsin, is the author of the Fudge Shop Mystery Series and the Mischief in Moonstone Series. Her website is christinedesmet.com.

Christine DeSmet

Christine DeSmet is the author of the Fudge Shop Mystery Series set in Door County, and the Mischief in Moonstone Series set in northwest Wisconsin. You can find out more about her on her website, christinedesmet.com, or follow her on Facebook.

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Laurie Buchanan

    The photograph of fudge makes my mouth water!

    I have a program on my laptop that allows me to enable the sound of a standard typewriter when I type. It even makes the “woosh” and “ding” of the carriage return.

    What skill shaped my life? Without a doubt, reading!

    1. Indeed, reading! A good one. I lived on a farm and we didn’t have much access to a library, so I’d read and re-read all the books in the house many times. I just re-discovered some of those books in my basement including the early hardcover LITTLE WOMEN.

  2. Christine,
    You drew me in with that picture of fudge! I bet you try all your recipes!

    Your post brought me back to high school with Mrs. Stewart and our timed typing tests. Yes, everyone had that 60 words per minute goal!

    And I would have to go with Laurie on the skill that shaped my life–it would be reading.

    Thank you for this fun blog post!

    1. Christine DeSmet

      Thank you, Margaret, for the note about typing and your teacher. When writing my post, I could almost smell that old classroom of mine with the ink ribbons and such. I liked the smell of the ink!

  3. Larry F. Sommers

    Thanks for this great and provocative post, Christine! You’re right, boys didn’t generally take typing classes. I learned touch typing from my mother–an excellent typist who also knew shorthand and other secretarial skills–on our old Underwood, the pre-ergonomic model with flat, circular keys.
    A bit later Uncle Sam gave me a formal typing class to up my speed so I could do important National Defense work that involved typing–but that’s another story, that I will tell about sometime on my own blog.
    And as to skills that shaped my life, I’d have to rank fudge-making pretty high also. Unlike you and Ava, I only make one kind: The standard brown chocolate kind from Betty Crocker’s cookbook. My mom used to make that, too. After she died, I started making it on my own, and now my grandchildren demand it on holidays and birthdays.
    Thanks for some fun reminiscences.

  4. Christine DeSmet

    Larry, that’s a great memory. My, how typing and fudge-making shaped your life! Typing for the national defense of our country! Wow!

  5. Christine Keleny

    I too was taught the touch/sightless method – thank goodness. Besides that, the desire to be creative has shaped my life the most – all different kinds of creative.

    1. Christine DeSmet

      A desire is of course important. I have the creative desire, too. I’d still love to hear what “skill” shaped you, Christine. I know you to be multi-talented!

  6. Man, I remember those typing classes. A room full of students using IBM selectric typewriters, and our typing teacher at the front of the room calling out the keys: WWW space, SSS space. My teeth still clench at the memory of her voice, like nails on a chalkboard. My dad used to type at home on an old electric typewriter that vibrated the whole dining room table when it was turned on. We could hear the hum all the way upstairs. And when he typed, we could feel each strike. Then the ding and shoving the carriage back ended in a thud before he started again. He could type pretty fast, too.

    Reading, I think more than anything, shaped my life. I spent a lot of time at the local library, and the school library.

    1. Christine DeSmet

      I love those memories! Yes, I can hear the thud and ding, too. And reading. What a special thing that we often take for granted. In the higher grades in grade school there was some method brought into the school where they tried to teach us all speed reading by seeing only one line of type at a time. That didn’t last long. I don’t recall the name of that method that used projection screens and we had to read as the darn light bounced down the page on the screen.

  7. Regina Rosier

    I learned to type with that method, too — In High School about 1964. But the skill that impacted my life the most was learning how to ride a horse !!! I had been so shy. After I learned to ride AND had my own horse, I socialized with the other kids at the barn and even was brave enough to ride in Horse Shows. I joined 4-H and held some offices. More opportunities opened up. When I married my husband, his daughter was very involved with horseback riding. Thirty years later, she is a professional in the field. My knowing about horses and supporting her activities brought about a special bond. I treasure my equestrian activities !!!

  8. Christine DeSmet

    Wow, what a great skill. We had ponies and a horse when I was growing up, but I was scared about riding. I didn’t want to be bucked off. But I loved hitching up our ponies to the cart and riding that way. I truly admire anybody who’s expert at riding. I love watching the horses in rodeos. They are amazing. Thanks, Regina, for this note that took me back to good times with our ponies!

  9. Joy Ribar

    This was a fun read, Christine!. I thought of the Cinderella fudge as soon as I saw the headline photo. I have dabbled in so many skillsets throughout life and each one has contributed a verse to my writing life, for sure. But, I’d have to say that learning to bake from my mom has served me well. It’s amazing how much street cred you can get walking into an office or public service with a bakery offering. I love to bake cookies and cakes the most, including decorating them. Baking has been a way to relax, a way to earn some side money, and now, an avenue for my main character to earn in a living in her Bubble and Bake shop in the Deep Lakes series.

  10. Donna

    Ahh mine is my ability to paint. Your fudge is way more tasty than paint! But I love it! To sit down, and it happens without delay, a painting that will delight someone.

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