The Art of Typewriting

There is something lovely about seeing typewritten pages. The type that doesn’t have corrective tape on it. You get to see all the little mistakes, the X’d out letters. When you read something that’sbeen typed on a typewriter, there’s just something special about it…the words have more presence. Somehow, the sheet of paper has more character to it.

I was sorting through my old archives of writing mementos when I saw a stack of papers that were typewritten. They were one of my earlier attempts to keep a journal. I had kept a LiveJournal during my high school years, but for one reason or another I stopped updating it. In the summer of 2004, I lugged out the big old Corona-Smith electric typewriter my parents had. I typed out about a month’s worth of journal entries. The entries stopped at the time I got my first sales job.

As I was reading through the journal entries, the unedited flow of thoughts leapt at me. I saw all the spelling mistakes, the transposed letters and all the other little typos that come with using a typewriter. To me, the typewriter is like an instrument. You see the little flaws of thoughts transmitting through fingers and keys, the words that flow from the metal typebars that smash the ribbon of ink, ultimately creating a permanent impression. There is something incredibly pleasing about seeing each letter you type, whether or not it belongs in that word, appear before you. There is no backspace to erase your error. Your mistake is forever embedded into that piece of paper.The type writer is going the way of the mimeograph. I am too young to have used a manual typewriter, and the electric typewriter was still very much a novelty. By the time I was old enough to type reports, home computers and printers were gaining momentum. So really, I never was engrossed in the culture of typewriters.Instead, I became fascinated by typewriters after watching Conspiracy Theory (starring Mel Gibson). I wanted his typewriter so that I too could neatly produce my cockamamied ideas on a white sheet of paper. I wanted to fill that broad stretch of pure and untouched stationery with black serifed letters, complete with the disheveled imperfections of a physical medium.

In a way, the typewriter is to writing as using film is to still photography. There is something intrinsically satisfying in dealing with tangible items, perhaps even more so in this day and age. I imagine that when I find that it is time to move on to a new chapter of my own life, I will print this entire blog. And what better way to produce an accurate record and history of my own thoughts? It would be quite amazing to hold a year or two’s worth of my thoughts bound in a book of my own making.

And so I go forth on my hunt for a typewriter that suits me. In one of those journal entries that I rediscovered, I had written that the keys on that Corona-Smith were not particularly conducive to accurate typing. I am trying to look into the differences between manual and electric typewriters, but I do believe that the more pressing issue is finding one that has a ready supply of ink ribbons: it would become entirely useless should the source of ink run out.

Thanks hisks for the stock photo!