About ten years ago when I had a big office my wife decided to help me decorate it with some former tools of my trade. She bought me a working 1920s Smith-Corona typewriter, a stand-up model that was boxy and upright and measured around two-feet by two-feet by two-feet.
Some years after that, I picked up a small portable Olympia in robin’s-egg-blue. Since I now inhabit a corner, rather than a corner office, I’ve never taken either of them in to work. There is simply no place for personality in the modern work space. Besides, these machines are relics and it’s likely I’d be regarded as one if I had these typewriters with me.
Still, they are great machines. Iconic in their own way of the eras in which they thrived. And who knows what was typed on them by owners before me, rivers of prose or columns of numbers or, simply, letters telling people that their rent was overdue.
I was thinking this morning about writing and about this blog. My readership, for whatever reason, has dropped precipitously—I’m down to about 200 visitors a day—and I worry that the whole thing is getting tired. At times writing, which often comes easily to me, has been strained of late. Even my passing nights at the Tempus Fugit have become less exhilarating.
So, in short, I am not getting joy where I so often do, from the work, the craft, the fitting together of words into sentences into thoughts and ideas. I’ve been thinking that maybe writing has become all too Mac-ized, quiet, efficient and simple. Maybe, I’ve been thinking I should bring back one of my old typewriters. Maybe I need to hear and feel writing. The clackety clack of the keyboard, the grind of the paper being cycled in the roller, the ding-whirr of a line being finished and a new one started. Maybe I miss the visceralality of typing, actually, physically typing on a real mechanical keyboard.
Of course that’s stupid. The computer is infinitely easier, faster, smoother. I will stick to the world’s knitting and use the world’s accepted devices. I will get out to my writing slump and will be able to write again. But for now, I look longingly at dead machines.