Okay, so writing isn’t really magic–making the time to actually write is difficult. And wrestling with the words? That’s often brutal–like fist-fighting a close family member. If you’re actually living your life, it’s a struggle sometimes to get to the page. And lately it’s become more and more of a fight for me to write.
Enter the typewriter.
Well, not yet. The typewriter didn’t enter until after I’d had a few weeks (three?) where I was just absolutely avoiding writing. It’s easy for me to get distracted by Facebook, or Twitter, or Fark, or gChat, or Reddit. I am the master of finding excuses not to write. I’m easily distracted. I’m lazy. And I need to find ways to combat that. For my birthday, the one thing I really requested was a manual typewriter.
I figured there would be fewer distractions to my writing. The plan was (is) to write first drafts on the manual, and then come back to do a second draft/rewrites on the laptop. After a week or so checking eBay, Craigslist, and area thrift stores, I finally settled on a 1930s-era Royal Quiet De Luxe. It arrived this past week. After a couple of days practicing typing on it, I was ready to tackle some fiction.
So now: Enter the typewriter.
I tried not to think too much about what I was doing. I rolled paper in, closed the bale, and started typing on a short story I think could eventually link to other stories. I stopped for the day, nine pages later–approximately 2,250 words. Maybe more. That’s a good writing day for me. A great one, even. I could have done more, but I’m having a few physical challenges lately. Yay gout.
But the best thing is that there were no apps. Not one thing to distract me. When I sat down to write, that was all I was there for. The machine is made for one thing, and one thing only: to put words on a page. That simplicity appeals to me in a visceral way that’s hard to explain. I feel like I have to think more about the words I put down, because once they’re on the paper, they’re there. It’s a slower process, maybe, but incredibly fulfilling.
And today I can’t wait to get back to those few flimsy pages, can’t wait to roll another fresh page in and watch the words stream across the page, can’t wait to feel the clack and clatter of the carriage return.
Because no matter how much work writing is, it is also magic. It really is. Writers use different modes to focus and project their own magic. Elmore Leonard still uses a pen and unlined legal pads. Hemingway swore by the Quiet De Luxe. Donald Westlake used a pair of Smith Corona Silent Supers. Whatever focus or talisman you use, the magic of your words comes out the other side.
I had more fun pounding away on that old Royal manual than I have in ages. Whether the stories come to anything or not, it was still an incredible way to pass a morning and late afternoon.
Writing is magic. And magic is fun. Magic feels dangerous. Magic feels good.
Just like writing should.