the mutt

Careful, now. That’s a typewriter.

Posted in General, Writing by grx20 on August 25, 2008

There’s something magical and maniacal about the typewriter! The cracking finality of the keys is not for the fainthearted. (The picture here is a FACIT typewriter – the one I have).

For me, coming to the typewriter is more intimidating than approaching a blank sheet of paper.
On paper, I can rewrite as many times as I desire. Scratch out, insert words, strike out, make corrections.
But the typewriter is demanding. It isn’t easy to make corrections, additions and subtractions. It has to be done on another draft altogether. So the words have to be right, the sentences begun correctly, the thought – perfect.

Does that improve one’s writing? Does it force the mind to compose with greater precision and clarity?

My personal experience with the typewriter has been unnerving. I go to it with fear and trepidation. Some sentences, I type rapidly, hitting the keys hard, making a lot of noise. And sometimes, softly, almost apologetically. And sometimes there’s a long silence, and a desperate pressure mounts. When I leave, it is with relief for sure, but relief mixed with a sense of not having quite nailed it. It is often a harrowing experience, something I want to be done with as quickly as possible. Take out the sheet of paper, wonder how I managed to fill a page, and then quickly shut the cover.

But I keep going back to it. Probably because it is an unforgiving slave-driver. It draws me with a promise of making me feel like a writer. Sitting at a desk, fingers flitting busily, sheets of paper stacked. It draws me the promise that if I persist, I will be able to transfer my thoughts to the paper lucidly, precisely and creatively.

Writing on paper, I find, is far more relaxing, easy and forgiving.

Using the keyboard, is fast and quick, certainly, but rarely works for me. I rarely get beyond Age of Empires or Caesar III and make it to Word!

P.S. I wrote this on Word. It took me at least an hour to get everything right, or what I think is.

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  1. Cliff Burns said, on August 25, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    An anal-retentive perfectionist, I can’t say I miss the days of the typewriter. Resisted getting a computer at first but, man, now I can edit like a bastard, catch the tiniest, most niggling error…wait, that can be counter-productive too, giving a book a mannered, contrived feel. Sometimes over-editing is a problem, losing the freshness of those early drafts.

    Great, something else to ponder as I sit down to write today…

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