Zen and the Art of Typewriter Adaptation: The Beginning
Updated: Nov 22, 2022
Ever since I was young, I’ve had an affinity for typewriters. As a preschooler, I would occasionally go to work with my mother, a radiology tech, and play for hours with one of the hospital’s electric typewriters. The clickety-clack of the keys, the weight of them on my fingers, felt… right. I may have been too young to type in complete sentences, or much more than my name really, but I think this may have been an early manifestation of my desire to write and I would type out my name over and over again like Jack in The Shining without the homicidal insanity. Mostly.
I was a whiz in my high school typing class. I may not have been the quickest, but I was certainly the most accurate. I played the oboe the same way. My fingers were not very nimble, but I was able to produce lovely music, earning primarily first place medals in school solo/ensemble contests.
Recently, I purchased a Spectre X2 convertible laptop so that I could be more mobile when writing. It’s light and thin and I love it, but there was still something missing. The keys feel better than writing longhand–hell, anything feels better than that–but there is still something that doesn’t quite work for me. Just the other day, I realized what it was: the noise. Or rather, the lack of noise. I seem to have a hard time “getting in the zone” without some background noise.
Looking back, I realize that sound was always a part of how I worked. I would have the television on for background noise while I was lost in my head writing term papers, but I never got the hang of taking notes during a lecture. Every time I tried, I missed important points while concentrating more on making my handwriting legible than whatever the professor might be saying. I can’t listen and write at the same time, but noise seems to help me access my thoughts more easily.
Somehow, somewhere along the way I had lost that critical part of my writing process. Now, whenever I listen to music I usually just end up singing along instead of working. The television has become a time-sucking nightmare thanks to all the good shows available on Netflix. And my beloved Spectre, well, it has access to Facebook and I’m weak. So very, very weak. I have, however, found a solution. It is possible to convert a manual typewriter into a computer keyboard!
And so my journey begins. I have purchased a 1950s-ish Royal Keystone typewriter, cleaned it—okay, mostly just dusted it–, and have conscripted my wonderful, computer genius husband into helping me transform it into a Retro Writing Tool of Awesomeness!
I’m so pretty!
Stay tuned for updates on my progress and happy St. Patrick’s Day, my homesnakes!