I have always loved typewriters. When I was a kid, I stole my Dad’s old electric typewriter and wrote a horrible vampire novel (I had just discovered Buffy). When I tired of that, I wrote my memoirs. Sadly, or maybe fortunately, both of these artefacts have been lost to time.
As an adult in a world where everything is always stored and remembered, this is one of the magical aspects of a typewriter. The single copy of your writing is not accessible on multiple devices, nor is it editable, except by hand. But that makes that single copy all the more precious. Something you keep in a binder, and can bring along physically when you meet friends to discuss your work. Something you can rediscover in your files after years, after you have long forgotten about it.
My friend Rodja got me my Olympia Traveller de Luxe S. I can’t remember how we first came to talk of typewriters – our regular coffee breaks usually revolve around movie chat – but I suppose he might have started, seeing as it is one of his specialties. I expressed interest in having one of my own, despite knowing nothing about types, and eventually he produced my new travelling companion. So far, I have only taken it as far as the Steiermark (Styria province). I wanted to take it to Denmark, but with a heavy heart, and heavier suitcase, I abstained.
Once I got past the initial frustration of typing on something without an autocorrect (it is quite embarrassing to see how many typos us spell-check folks make when unsupervised by our constant computer companions) there was something freeing about working away from a screen. I like the satisfying thump of fingers on a keyboard which you actually have to pound to get results. As usual, I have no problem with the key layout, despite the fact I write in English on a German typewriter. Since I grew up in Austria, using German keyboards is more natural to me than English ones.
Usually, I don’t write poetry, but I do with the typewriter. It is uniquely satisfying to sketch out the lines, and then craft the line breaks manually. It forces you to go slowly, and in the process, really think about your wording.
After some consideration, I decided that I will be writing one of my novels on my Olympia. I am currently working on a pulp Sci-Fi novel, potentially the first in the series, which will among other things pay tribute to some of the earliest science fiction stories. One of these homages will be that I am writing it on a typewriter. This will of course be more of an inside meta joke, as I will eventually have to transcribe it back to computer. But for now, I will enjoy the illusion of working in a slower, perhaps more contemplative era.
Julie K. Walker