Saturday, February 15, 1997

I found an old typewriter at work a few days ago — a Selectric II (a business machine, I suppose) by none other than IBM. It’s not in real good shape. Some of the letters don’t work predictably, the space bar always double types, and the carriage return never quite returns to carriage to its proper position at the beginning of the new line, but it has what no computer does: writer’s ambience. Yes, I push the little on button to the right of the keys and stick in a fresh sheet of paper and the words just flow! The first two sheets I typed weren’t full of real good or particularly sensical words, but they were there.

Josh waxes philosophic on the matter. It felt so pure. The fact that it sometimes worked unpredictably (see above) removed the anxiety of putting the words onto the paper and not having them be immediately perfect. (Sure, not a problem for most, but for perfectionists like myself…) I could write a stupid sentence or two, and many, many, many sentences of questionable grammar (note most in this tirade) without having to worry about it. I was every novelist, journalist, and playwrite before the advent of the godlike box, err, computer. Well, maybe not. Suffice it to say that I felt quite liberated that afternoon.

So, now I’ve got a goal — to get myself a good ol’ used typewriter. I want manual, despite the warnings that typing on a manual is like driving without power steering. The Selectric II purred at me softly like my computer: bad. I want something that will sit there, still, quite, and force me to keep what I say on the paper. None of this going back and editting bullshit until the whole thing is completed. I’m not going Luddite here, don’t worry. I still understand the uses of typing on a computer. (Hey, guess what I’m typing this on!) And what else am I going to play Redneck Rampage on? But I need a typewriter…