Well then, here we are – 1980. Sid Vicious has been dead for a year, Iran is held by a new regime, and perhaps most pertinently to me at this very moment, Olivetti released the Lettera 40, which I’m typing on right now. The decision to try writing on a typewriter has been incubating in my mind for a while now, and I finally took the plunge. Let me try to explain why I’ve gone back to the technology of the last century.
Well, firstly, there’s something immensely satisfying about the physical feedback you get from typing on this thing. Seeing the heavy metal typeset fly up, and seeing your words recreated on the paper in front of you gives you a real physical connection to your craft. As Hemingway once said, when you write, you bleed, and that’s never more apparent than when you’re using a typewriter. You feel the words flow from you like some bodily humour. You feel more like a true writer than you ever do on something as soulless as a computer.
Second, and probably most importantly to me, is a lack of distractions. There’s no web browsers, no games, no gifs, and no videos. All you have is the page and your mind, your soul. It may seem strange, but the main effect of this isn’t you speeding up, it’s you slowing down. You stop and think more, keenly aware that everything you type is being committed to physical record. You want to make every passage the very best you can, since going back and correcting anything is a right pain in the ass. You end up trying your hardest at every moment.
The third factor is the hardest to define. There’s a sense of connection with history. I’m experiencing the same feelings, physical and otherwise, as most of my favourite authors did throughout their careers. Their understanding of the essence of typing is something I can feel and understand now. It’s a kind of spiritual experience, a little bit of a reverie.
I doubt that I’ll be using this machine for work – the turnaround time of most freelance writing these days makes typing something up on here and then transferring it to a computer impractical. For blogging or writing fiction though? This little machine is perfect. I get to sit out on my terrace, with a drink and a smoke, listening to the roar of the waves and just create. There’s not much more I could ask for. Whenever I feel the need to escape from the constant barrage of information that is modern life, I get to come out here, type on this little machine that once belonged to a Spanish teacher, and just be at one with myself and my work.
I’m not suggesting that this would work for everyone, but if you feel the need to just work, create, free-form, without distraction? I’d definitely recommend it. It sure does work for me.
JECC – Nerja, Spain – 20/04/2015