Notes From the Wasteland No. 33 ‘Did You Ever Have a Typewriter?’

Do you worry when the page is blank in front of you? Do you feel an anxiety, an expectation? A fear that you just won’t fill it? A fear that you just can’t fill it? That you never will fill it? Just fear?

F.E.A.R.

I know I do. Like now when I started this post. I stared at the page. The page stared back at me. We know each other very well. We are truly beyond intimate now. The page knows my every thought. My every dream. Well-shared and long-shared. The page has been with me on every step of my writing journey. Not the page on this laptop. The page on every screen I have ever written on.

If I imagined the combined area of every page on every screen I have ever written on it would probably be enough to wallpaper the world, sheet by sheet by sheet. That would be some story in itself.

When I first started writing I had a typewriter and used to love the sound of the keys as they crashed against the paper. I adored the percussive smash as I pulled the carriage return across once more. The ripping sound as I turned the roller knob to line up the paper. The ink on my fingers. The ink on the page. The press of the letters. The indents and under-types. All of it. And at least with the typewriter the paper I wrote on could be thrown away, or stored somewhere, and left to yellow. To me, it made the process of writing more easily detachable. I could type a page, put that page away and then choose not to look at it again, if that was what I wanted. It made the process more discrete.

But I can honestly say that I don’t miss that typewriter. I think if I had it now I would find all the parts and processes far too mechanical, too fiddly, too easily distracting; simply too much. The simple act of doing things one sheet at a time would be too slow now, too demanding, there would be too much emphasis on the process and not enough emphasis on the act itself. I worry that my words would get lost in the execution of the act of writing itself.

Don’t get me started on the Tipp-Ex.

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