Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Typewriter

In the early 1990s, when I was kid, I either wrote my stories out long-hand or I used the family typewriter.

The typewriter sat in the back corner of the basement and faced a blank wall. I used to sit there for hours, my small fingers clicking away at the keyboard. I loved the sound of the daisywheel switching, hitting each letter against the paper. I liked rolling each individual piece of paper through the roller, watching the page move left as my words filled in to the right.

Back then, I didn't have much of an inner editor. I was a kid, willing to experiment with my words and rarely doubted myself. I was just writing, for me, myself, and I. But, if I had an inner editor back then, it had more difficulty expressing itself. With a typewriter, I couldn't just go back to an earlier paragraph and switch a couple words out, or add more sentences. I was forced to continue writing, and only erase the last few letters I wrote.

This is how I wrote my Julie & Beth story series, inspired completely by my avid reading of the Nancy Drew novels. With the typewriter, I liked the way my mystery stories laid on the page, always in a "Courier" font.

We eventually got a new-fangled computer, and my sisters and I were loathe to use anything else. The typewriter started collecting dust in the hall closet.

Years later, while in high school, I wanted the typewriter back, so I could roll a sheet of paper through it, watch my words unfold, and feel like I had to keep going... I always had that sense with a typewriter. Add a page. Roll it down an inch or so - and go.

Unfortunately, the typewriter barely worked. Certain letters failed to press ink onto the page - the letter 'e' being the worst victim of all. I tinkered with it, wanting to achieve that sense of drive I had with the typewriter when I was a kid, but I'm no mechanic. Nothing I did helped.

Now, in my mid-20s, there still seems to be something magical about that typewriter, and I don't care if I'm being nostalgic and corny - I loved that typewriter!

When you first started writing was there something that kept you writing and inspired? What was it? Why do you think it affected your writing? If it can be bought, would you buy it?

There's typewriters selling on eBay for $129. I'm pretty tempted.

Photo source: http://new.idsa.org/webmodules/articles/anmviewer.asp?a=264&z=62

2 comments:

lifeischange said...

I used to write on a typewriter when I was a kid, too, but I was a kid in the 1970's, and it was an old (very old) manual typewriter. It's funny to remember it, because I'm a notorious editor now, and I can't imagine how I managed to do so much on that typewriter, from my own creative writing for pleasure, to pen-pal letters, to my school work.

Liz S said...

lifeischange... I hear you. As much as I "miss" my typewriter, the thought of going back and typing up my entire novel, whenever I make any revisions, just sounds scary!

Thanks for stopping by.