I Want A Typewriter

I've been without a typewriter since around 1981. Lately, I've been thinking about buying one though. A Selectric, in fact.

Partly this is because, in the bad ol' days, a Selectric was the object of my desires. A mere eight to 1200 bucks would bring me one of these elegantly styled, deep blue beasties to sit on my desk. At the time, I couldn't justify anything more expensive than my old Olivetti. But the Selectric? That would be a writing machine. Even the racy lines indicated the pace I could expect to hit.

When visiting a friend's office recently, I found myself punching keys for something to do while she took a long call.

"Today is the first day of the rest of your life," I typed.

As well as a lot of stuff about Quick Brown Foxes.

And something happened inside my hands, and maybe in my heart. Something I'd forgotten about. I could feel the machine respond to me in a way that my computer never has. Something that the subdued "tap tap tap" my computer keyboard produces just can't duplicate.

Every key I hit produced a deep, grunting resonance from deep within the beast, the result of the basic mechanics that computers have moved far beyond. Pretty soon my fingers were flying along, and I could see real words piling up on a piece of paper; not the mere impressions of words that my word processor produces. It brought me back to a time when my working manuscript had a path to the end of the story marked by neat XXXXXXes over unwanted words. Reminded me of a place in history when the c.c. at the bottom of a letter had meaning and the word "carbon" wasn't only used in conjunction with the word "dating."

So I think I'm going to buy a Selectric. Will I actually use it? Be serious! I like creating perfect and maleable copy. The Selectric will probably sit in my studio -- a new home for my toys -- and maybe I'll use it to type the occasional envelope. But what heck: I hear I can get one for around 50 bucks.


Tanya Lee Stone said…
Ok, confession time. I came across your journal for the first time today, while googling Selectric! Count me in as a writer who pines for the impressions of fresh black ink on white paper, the whir of the Selectric ball, and the gratifying key-contact clack computer keyboards somehow do not yield. Ah. Mine was red.

And let's not forget that incredible invention--the white-out key! That simple new function bid goodbye to pages marked with the tell-tale traces of dried white-out liquid, superimposed by off-kilter second-chance keystrokes. (Although I also miss the plunk of the arm-like pre-Selectric keys that popped up from the belly of a typewrite to thwap the page with each new letter.)

And no, I wouldn't replace my computer with a typewriter either. I don't think I could type an entire novel that way. But it could sit on the shelf with my Nancy Pearl action figure, and Charles Schultz Lucy doll, complete with her Doctor is In booth!

Popular Posts