Lettie Prell Online
January 19, 2017 5:43pm
Works In Progress

I went to a funeral today, of a 27-year-old man who died in a car accident. From my current perspective, it seems twenty-seven is very young. I was about that age when I started to write science fiction.

I know his mother, through work. I knew Trevor not at all. The room was filled with celebration of life for this kid. Go read what was in his typewriter, his mom said to me.

On one of the tables was a typewriter sitting in its open case. It was an old Sears electric, a model so early that the paragraphs it had produced looked like something from D.H. Lawrence’s manual typewriter at his museum in Picinisco, Italy.

The first paragraph in Trevor’s typewriter recorded his frustration with the contrast of working a nothing job, while writing a novel. Kid, I wanted to tell him, Octavia Butler told me, and a small room full of people, that she chose nothing jobs so she could focus on her writing.

In the second and final short paragraph, Trevor turned hopeful, and ended with how he felt things were going to get better for him. This was no suicide note; the accident had been just that. You walk out your door one day to go somewhere, and you just don’t come back. The lilt upward at the end was ironic and beautiful.

I cried for that unfinished novel. Never mind if it was a good one. Hey, it was a first novel; we know how those usually go. That’s not the point. The novel won’t ever be finished. I felt like dedicating my next finished work to him. I felt like devoting myself to my writing more, and writing this blog about it so you’d feel this way, too.

But in the end I don’t want to preach anything. I’m just admiring this guy because he’d been writing a damn novel on an old Sears electric typewriter. This guy is uber cool in my book. I just want to sit back and savor how old and battered that thing was. Older than the Smith Corona cartridge typewriter I used in high school. Ridiculously old.

The quote in his funeral pamphlet was this: “On soft Spring nights I’ll stand in the yard under the stars  – Something good will come out of all things yet – And it will be golden and eternal just like that – There’s no need to say another word.” – Jack Kerouac, Big Sur


Lettie Prell is a science fiction writer. She likes to explore the edge where humans and their technology are increasingly merging.

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Lettie Prell is an active member of SFWA

photo by Camille Renee