Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Type

Several several years ago, I told a friend that I wanted a typewriter. He seemed doubtful.

"Are you really going to write with it? Or is it just a writerly artifact you want?"

"No, I'll write with it." I was, perhaps, being a little defensive about a statement that had been more like a writerly daydream. This was back when I was writing fiction, and while Meg Ryan's boyfriend in You've Got Mail owned an excessive number of typewriters, it seemed like an obvious implement for any literary type to possess.

Long story short, I got the typewriter. It came in the mail one day, huge and heavy and unexpected. I was delighted, but I only remember using it once or twice when I was back at Anderson. It stayed at home, even when I went to Michigan. It was, in fact, more of a beloved artifact than a working typewriter.

After I redecorated my room last summer, I made sure there was space for a desk so I could write. Maybe this was a perfect waste of space because I have never written well in my room, no matter where I am. It's one of the severe adjustments I've had to make in the past week, not having a coffee shop within two blocks that I can easily turn to for all my reading and writing time needs. But I set up the desk anyway and brought my typewriter out.

Its spot on the desk is pretty much permanent, right under my Empire Strike Back poster. I love turning it on and just sitting there, hands resting on it. It hums and vibrates, and of course the typing noises are loud and sharp. In one sense, I don't do any "serious" writing on it. It's very difficult to format a screenplay on a typewriter. I usually write a page or two of whatever comes into my head. These snippets are unplanned and usually unsupported by interest in taking them further. One might think they're useless because they really are stories that exist just for the fifteen minutes I'm typing them. Looking back on some of the pages, I can't remember what motivated me to write the story or where I was going with it. But I love that about writing with my typewriter. It's helping me write every day, just snippets of whatever I want, random tangents, fleeting expressions, fictionalized versions of my self. I don't feel like I have to leave the room to concrete on Current Draft for hours and hours to come up with something brilliant. I just plunk down at my desk, turn the typewriter on, and smile at its beautiful hum.

Maybe one day I'll take one of these pages and flesh it out into a real story. But if not, I'm perfectly happy with my growing pile of unfinished tales.

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