Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Typewriter Blues

Does form dictate content?

Quills to fountain pens to typewriters to electric typewriters to word processors to laptops.

The writing instrument must affect how we think and write.

I can't imagine writing on a manual typewriter. Or-- let me rephrase that-- I can't imagine editing on a typewriter. My process is so fluid, that dancing cursor at the end of each word  pulses and guides like a wee fairy. Tinkerbell!

Some writers I know write in longhand, then type up their manuscript on a computer.

I take notes by hand sometimes-- but I usually have trouble reading my own handwriting.
Penmanship was never my thang, ya'll.

I wonder what and how we'll be writing 20 years from now. It boggles the noodle.

This is a picture of my grandmother's 1940-something Smith Corona manual typewriter. It is in pristine condition, as is the owner's manual. Alas, the ribbon is not. No ribbons anymore to buy and replace it. The typewriter, itself, can fetch a princely sum on Ebay.

So, for Christmas she got an electric typewriter. Yeah, I know. I didn't think they made electric typewriters either. But they do.

I spent the afternoon trying to figure the #$@! thing my grandmother could type her recipes and lists and sympathy notes. When you get 85, you write a lot of Sorry for Your Loss messages.

So we did figure it out finally...[that's her, in a practice run] It's  more complicated to use--with all its codes and keys-- than a computer, and I told her so.

She said she was too old to learn anyhing knew.


  1. Hum... I wonder! Grandmother *hugs*

  2. While cleaning out some old files yesterday I ran across some poems that were done on my first typewriter nearly 50 years ago and cannot imagine doing that way again.

  3. Used to first draft on an underwood (rip) and tidy up on a mac. Now looking for an Underwood 5 to drool over. Can't imagine writing any other way. Anything else gives me all the quantity I want...but the quality ain't worth a damn. Keep the faith.

  4. I remember white out. Do they still sell it?

    I like the courier font on computers...looks like you typed and typed.

  5. Yep they still sell it.....correction ribbon and liquid. But I don't use them. I type analogue and electricity-free (the only power being my hands) for first draft, as I like to see everything, mistakes and all. I enter the world of webtricity for later and final drafts. Each has their own use. Catch me on

    Looking forward to your feedback on how to avoid the slushpile blog.


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