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Monday, January 09, 2006

A Typewriter

That's right... I've made it! My first post here!"

I was probably in middle school when we dragged the old manual typewriter out of the back bedroom at my grandmother's house. I kept it in my bedroom for the longest time. I imagined my fingers flying over the keys and creating those click-clacking sounds just like my mother and the women at her office could do.

Of course, they were typing letters, reports, official documents. I wanted to write a book, but my fingers flying over the keys resulted in an incomprehensible gibberish. Then the metal prongs tangled together like Christmas lights, and I had to gingerly push each letter one at a time back into its place.

I used the manual typewriter to practice being a writer. I can't even begin to count on how many pages I typed "Chapter One." I waited for stories to come to me. I tried to think of clever dialogue, but all of it was a bad imitation of what was said on Days of Our Lives. I should have been sitting on top of a dog house, banging out "It was a dark and stormy night."

I finally took a typing class during my sophomore year in high school, and I excelled in not looking at the keys while I typed — a trait that I'm proud to say I still have today. For Christmas that year, my parents gave me a brand-new typewriter. The ribbon was a cartridge that glided along the paper like a blade on ice. It had a one-line screen and could store 500 words in its memory and then print them out. (Hey, it was 1987 ok?) I use larger sizes, and I could make that "Chapter One" larger and darker than the rest of the text.

After high school graduation, I upgraded to a Brother word processor. It didn't have a silent cartridge, though. Printing documents from this contraption sounded louder than a regular typewriter, and the whole device shimmied, making the kitchen table shake as I printed out page after page of my poems that I had entered from my spiral bound notebook.

It never dawned on me to imagine what equipment I'd be working on in the future. My Apple iBook, my Epson printer, my Word software, my blog — all of that seems so otherworldly when compared to that clunky manual typewriter. Yet when I'm sitting in front of the screen and staring at "Chapter One," the excitement from my childhood returns. I'm closed up in that tiny bedroom, sitting under the window on a Saturday afternoon, wondering where my story will take me.

Comments on "A Typewriter"


Blogger Diana said ... (4:38 PM) : 

Oh, this was so good. I just recently tried to explain the concept of the typewriter to my kids, and how the keys would get all tangled up. Lovely comparison, the Christmas lights.

I love these pieces that freeze a bygone (can you believe the 80s are "bygone"??) era in time.


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