Mrs. Pumpernickel

In our apartment, the dining room was my father’s office. In it was a big black desk anchored like a ship in a small ocean of papers and books. My dad was a writer when I was little and that was where he worked. I didn’t know what working was, but I knew it was important, because when he did it, we had to be quiet.

At three or so, I was just tall enough to peek over the edge of his desk and survey its exotic treasures: Pens! Pencils! Paperclips! Pudgy pink erasers! Pads of yellow paper! Writing had to be fun, that much I knew. Because when you were doing it, you could be very messy and no one gave you a hard time about it. In fact, the messier you were, the more you were working and the harder you were writing.

One day, a miracle occurred. My dad handed me one of his beautiful, brand-new yellow legal pads – the golden fleece, it seemed to me – and a shiny yellow pencil with its very own pink eraser on top. “I want you to write a letter to my editor, Mrs. Pumpernickel. Tell her I need more money!” my father said.

No matter that I didn’t know what an editor was or what money was or where to find Mrs. Pumpernickel. No matter that I didn’t know the alphabet or how to read. I was writing! I took my shiny pencil in hand and set to work, covering page after page of my legal pad with bold, confident squiggles. I finished my letter and handed it to my father. He looked over my chicken scratches carefully, nodding as if he understood every word perfectly. I couldn’t have been prouder if I’d won the Pulitzer! Then he fished in a desk drawer, pulled out a gleaming white envelope, and tucked my letter inside. “We need to mail this right away,” my dad said. What a thrill! I was hooked — and I’ve been writing ever since.

Today, January 8th, is my dad Albert’s birthday and this story is written in his honor. He’s one of the biggest reasons I became a wordsmith. Write on!


About karinwritesdangerously

I am a writer and this is a motivational blog designed to help both writers and aspiring writers to push to the next level. Key themes are peak performance, passion, overcoming writing roadblocks, juicing up your creativity, and the joys of writing.
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6 Responses to Mrs. Pumpernickel

  1. Carl Selinger says:

    Lovely piece! You do good chicken scratches!

  2. Hi Carl,
    Thank you for your kind words! We all have our own personal
    creation story about how the muse first wooed us. It is fun
    to ponder all the joy that has flowed from my first yellow pad!

    Write on,

  3. This is so heartwarming and sparked memories of my 6th grade teacher. He chose two ‘helpers’ each week to take care of the supply closet- pencils (yes, with the pink erasers), yellow primary paper, the ‘good’ white composition paper, art paper, paper clips, and a stapler and staples. I loved organizing everything and especially using the white paper.

    • Hi Ethel,

      Thanks so much for sharing your memories of school and all those
      supplies. A fresh sheet of paper still energizes me — it’s like a
      fresh canvas and a fresh start — anything can happen!

      Write on,

  4. Diane Masucci says:

    Karen, This brought back my own memories of sneaking into the basement to “quietly” watch my dad plugging away at the manual black typewriter, with piles of yellow legal pads surrounding him. Thanks for this morning boost! Diane Masucci

    • Hi Diane,

      Thanks so much for your note. Yes, there is something about those
      shiny yellow legal pads and typewriters — all the equipment of
      writers that is so appealing, isn’t it? The whole idea of pulling
      an idea from your head and bringing it to life on paper is just
      so enlivening.

      Write on,

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