I sat down at my old Smith-Corona late last night and began to write for the first time in a while. It’s a 50+ year old typewriter in a strange shade of green. Some of the keys show a bit of wear, but it’s actually in remarkable condition considering. Around the time I first got it, I was asked by many why I would want an antiquated machine most are all too eager to dispose of in a garage sale.
It’s clunky and a bit worn in places, but there’s a beauty to it. What first drew me to it was the thought of limiting distraction. When you sit down to a typewriter, they’re a bit of a one trick pony. They type. That’s about it. When using a computer, distractions are readily available. I appreciate the simplicity of it.
There’s something about the rhythmic striking of the keys. The ebb and flow seems to tell a story of its own. At the very least, it accentuates the story being told. Its typeface also has quite a lot of character. Each typewriter has its own individual fingerprint of sorts. I’ve heard detectives of the past used typeface to sometimes lead them to perpetrators. Perhaps, that’s why criminals began using letters cut from newspapers instead of typing or writing their messages by hand.
Typewriters have recently experienced a bit of a resurgence in popularity. I suppose Tom Hanks and hipsters are to thank for this. I prefer to thank Tom Hanks. Nevertheless, it’s the literary greats that inspired my acquisition. Quotes from Ernest Hemingway for instance, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” It doesn’t get much cooler than that.
My fingers have yet to bleed. Although, I believe that was mostly meant as a metaphorical expression. With Hemingway, it’s a little hard to tell. Regardless, I’ve found my typing speed is improving quite a lot. My hope is to one day write something of substance using it — a book maybe. A short book. Ha.
There is an arcane draw to archaic machines. It is not shared by all, but if you’ve ever seen the beauty of a well-preserved WWII airplane, a sextant, or even a typewriter – perhaps you understand. These old machines may be considered antiquated technology with little to no purpose today, but they serve as reminders of eras gone by. They were built during a time when things were built to last.