Sometimes the old ways are the best, preserving the brain/body connection.
The story of typewriter probably begins with my great-aunt Llewella’s typewriter, a vintage model which probably dates from the 1920s or 1930s. She typed her correspondence on it for decades. After she died, my mother kept it in a writing desk, as a family heirloom. As a writer, I hoped I’d inherit it.
I found my own vintage typewriter at a thrift store in Tucson. There were two typewriters there; I waved my hand over each to see which one “felt” right. “Henry” must have had an interesting life, for a typewriter; he’s welded and repaired on the underside. I tapped out poetry and prose on Henry on journal-sized paper. I bought a couple more typewriters just for fun, but Henry is still my favorite.
Writing on a typewriter is incredibly satisfying. The physicality of the experience is grounding: the sheer heft of the “portable” machine; the slick feel of the keys; the effort required to push the keys; the immediately recognizable clacking-clack of the platens striking the paper.
It’s tough work, so I naturally gravitate toward an economy of words. I compose and edit simultaneously in my mind: the tighter and more condensed my prose, the less effort my fingers expend. What comes out is tighter, more efficient, more specific.
Typewriter reminds me that the effort of writing is worth it. It reminds me to be efficient, to make good choices, to not be wasteful, to keep my writing short and succinct.
It reminds me that sometimes the old ways are the best: the manual ways, the tactile ways, the analog ways. A typewriter connects the body and the brain; the intellect to the physical world; air to earth. It’s a connection I want to preserve in my writing.