27 January 2010

Ode to the Obsolete


I recently adopted a typewriter: a 1955 Remington manual typewriter (found and acquired for free thanks to the Kent Freecycle network--see link in right margin). Ever since reading Words In Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell last year, I have had this desire to write with a typewriter. It is really a magical piece of machinery. I imagine it as being halfway between a letterpress and a word processor, but mechanically it is a very different beast altogether.

When I was testing my new old typewriter out, I felt like I was learning to play a new musical instrument. It even looks a little like a piano under the hood. Although the keyboard resembles those belonging to our modern computers, if you try to type as fast as you are used to with a computer keyboard, the letter-legs are likely to become tangled. So my first lesson was to type one key at a time--slow down a bit.

Another thing, there is actually quite a bit of space between the keys, enough so that your fingers can actually slip down between them. So my second lesson was to type more carefully, to aim more accurately with my key-pressing.

Finally, after a typewriter has been hibernating a while the ink ribbon tends to dry up a bit. This ribbon still had a bit of ink left in it but it was very faded. Amazingly enough though, people still make new ribbons for typewriters. So I have ordered two spools of what I hope is the right size/type of typewriter ribbon. Then I will have my third lesson: changing the ink ribbon. It doesn't seem to be too difficult, just a little more involved than popping a new cartridge into the inkjet. I found some really neat
how-to videos online and I think I'll be able to handle it.

1 comment:

  1. That is really really exciting Library!Lindsay. My Mom had a word processor that we used to plan on as kids. I'm thinking that you will learn a lot of lessons and improve your writing via typewriter. I'm trying to imagine thinking about and considering every letter as I type it. Slow and steady. Accuracy, calm. I think there are life lessons there.

    Keep me updated if you start to spontaneously mature! :-P

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