A Vindication of Typewriters

I love typewriters. 

I got my first typewriter when I was about 14 or 15, and since then I have been writing miles and miles of pages, and grown very fond of the steady clippety cloppety sound of the keys, like a trusty pony trotting along with me. 

No computer ever has been able to take my typewriter's place, although, admittedly I haven't used it much in the last 10 years. I can't imagine being without a computer anymore, but it's not love. Computers just aren't very good for writing. 

I mean writing, not typing. Creative writing. 

Computers offer too many distractions, they make procrastinating way too easy. With a typewriter there's no risk of you thinking, “hey, let me quickly google 'acatalepsy' and end up being sucked into a facebook debate for an hour. 

With typewriters the result is more immediate and … well, real. (Digital stuff is a bit like an echo or a ghost.) You got your words on a piece of paper right in front of you as you type, a bit like those old Polaroid instant cameras, which spat out a piece of card on which the photo mysteriously appeared after a little while. The same kind of instant magic. 

It might be more of a physical effort to actually type, but it does help me think. Also, I can type to the beat of a song that is playing, the typewriter providing the rhythm section. 

And, oh yes, no unasked-for autocorrect function doing annoying things like turning my name into “a nokia”. (Yes, happened.) In fact everything is refreshingly imperfect. You actually get typos. You can just x wrong words out without deleting them. You just accept mistakes and imperfections. You can make friends with them, and later give them the decorative company of cup ring stains.

And of course it goes way beyond these obvious things, it also connects me with a plethora of other writers - writers who are long gone now, but by way of using the same writing tool I managed to feel close to nonetheless. 

My greatest hero as I was growing up was probably Jack Kerouac, who used to type his novels on long paper rolls, so he didn't have to interrupt his writing to insert more paper. An idea that I enthusiastically copied, especially when writing letters to my best friend. Ironically, he might be enthusiastically typing away on a computer if he was living now. 

Anyway, I have kept my electric Triumph-Adler, and I can't make myself give it the sack. It is too much a part of me. Part of my life, my youth, the me I used to be and maybe somehow still am. It has travelled with me, it has seen me through long and dark hours. At a time in my life when my creative spark, my very soul was in danger of being crushed, it was, just like my guitar, a straw I clung onto for survival. I guess I am hoping that after all those years it still remembers me, and will be able to help me remember some of the parts of myself that I have long forgotten.

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