My New Laptop

My New Laptop

I grew up in the typewriter age. The manual typewriter age. f j f j f j f j… shift… tab… ding!  (Remember the bell?) How ’bout the margin release key for those of us who pushed the boundaries? Good times.

Earlier this year I visited my 92-year-young friend, Ruth, and she asked how my writing was going. I confessed it was in a lull. I also said I wished I had my ol’ Smith Corona.  (Gave it away years ago — a decision I’ve since regretted.) With a conspiratorial gleam in her eye, she led me to a closet and pointed to a pale green case in the shadows.

“Would you like my Olympia? I typed college term papers on it in the 60’s.”

A classic. Like my friend.

The Olympia made it’s debut last weekend.  After a few tentative taps and “the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog,” one sentence led to another. Then paragraphs. Pages.

Tangible thoughts… and a few jammed keys.

That’s when I realized what changed about my writing. I’m not physically engaged. Granted, I keep a paper and pen handy and write letters often, but sitting in front of a computer, something’s missing. It feels “weightless.” Although I appreciate the effortlessness of it, sometimes it borders on mindlessness — personally speaking, of course.

Typing on a manual typewriter is a multi-sensory experience that I just can’t get in front of a flat screen. I need to see the progress on an 8-1/2 x 11 inch sheet of paper. Hear the zipper-like sound and authoritative ‘thunk’ of the carriage return. Smell the ink. Feel words as they’re wrought. Taste success… eventually. Even if I have to re-type it into Word.

Plus, I can take it outside.

My Laptop

How has technology influenced your writing?

Enjoying my ‘new’ laptop,

~ Kimby

39 thoughts on “My New Laptop

  1. What a sweet gem, Ruth is, Kimmeee…I can just see her pleasure in sharing her retro Olympia w/you! Sometimes you just gotta feel that ‘thunk’, ratchet that handle to the next line, and see the cool ink of the keys on the paper~~and, yes, we remember the era of telephone operators and party lines! Great post…so what else is new in the world of Kimmeee!! xo

  2. Great post, Kim! I am so with you on this. I had a little red Olivetti that my parents bought for me when I was about 12. Stupidly I gave it to charity one time when I needed to downsize. I have regretted it ever since. Happy clacking on those keys xo

    • Lizzy, at least you gave it to charity. (I did, too.) Your heart was in the right place and your fingers will be, too, whenever it “comes back around.” Things like that DO happen! Thanks for your wonderful comment.

  3. Wow. I’ve never used a typewriter but I do remember that my mother had one (an electric one, so not quite the same) when I was tiny. The process does sound very tactile and soothing. It’s just a shame that there’s no way of ‘saving’ the typed data to transfer onto your computer later. Darn it! This is my first visit to your blog. It’s lovely xx

    • Laura, I did a “sneak preview” on your blog before replying here — LOVED your poetic way of writing and your photos are gasp-worthy — will be back SOON! I also agree with you on the ‘tactile and soothing’ aspect of manual typewriters. There’s something about hands-on writing that inspires.

  4. I love this, Kim! I remember when the “electric” typewriter replaced the clickity clack and how “innovative” that felt. I wish I had saved mine, too. Enjoy every clickity clack, multi-sensory minute.

    • Sue Ann, I’ll never forget the first time I typed on an IBM Selectric… so “modern” feeling and such an unforgettable “sound.” A step up from the ol’ manuals… but, on we went to our present day methods! Forward thinking and willing to learn… to EMBRACE… to communicate by whatever means. xo

    • Adam, thank you… the more I go forward, the more I seem to go back. Sometimes identifying “what works” involves less technology (surprisingly) — and I can live with that. I was also greatly encouraged by your comment to “write on.” Can’t seem not to! (Sorry for the double negative…) ;) I still miss my Smith Corona, but the Olympia is a lovely proxy, especially with the sentiment attached.

  5. Technology has made me hyper-sensitive about my writing. I never stop editing. I suppose I’m a bit perfectionist-inclined personality wise anyway, but love that I can thrash out ideas in a wordprocessor and then go back and cherry pick, cull, re-structure quickly and easily. If I hand-write things these days, the page ends up with lots of things crossed out, and little ‘up’ arrows with extra words entered into the space between sentences :)

    • Jas, I think you’re onto something there. I didn’t used to edit nearly as much as I do now. It’s like the “audience” is right there and every word is crucial before you even hit the publish button. Maybe that’s why I stepped back? Needed to step back!

      I’m also mindful of wasting paper, so I do a lot of preliminary thinking before committing my thoughts… perhaps it’s the “immediacy” of today’s forums that makes me long for the days of old? I like chewing things on things for awhile! (Food and words.) Your handwritten pages sound like mine — hooray for ‘up’ arrows! (And parenthetical thoughts…)

    • Yelena, thanks for stopping by! When it comes to computers, I’ve found the best “tech” helpers are 11 years old or so, like your daughter. :) Kids know everything I don’t about computers!

  6. I learned to type on a typewriter too. And when I worked for a legal firm, they were still using memory typewriters even though most other companies had switched to computers. I had no idea how to use a memory typewriter and had the most stressful learning curve ever. I thought I was going to lose my job over it. It’s great your Olympia is helping you get back into your writing xx

    • Charlie, I feel your angst! I worked in a law office (in the computer age) and can’t imagine how nerve-wracking it would’ve been trying to locate all the legal docs, etc., on a memory typewriter. The things we endure for gainful employment… :)

    • Purabi, I’d forgotten about “typewriter practice,” plunking away on each key until we somehow knew where they were located by memory. Too funny! Thanks for helping me remember. :)

  7. I love the sound and the heavy keys of typewriter that I actually pick my keyboard (for my desktop) just like the typewriter style (or that’s how I call it). My husband thinks it’s annoying when I type, especially when he’s on the conference call in our office (we share a room)… LOL. I type fast too so it’s like giant sound (don’t know how to write the sound of typewriter in English here…). Love this classic typewriter and such a treasure as well as the friendship with your 92-year old friend!

    • Nami, I love your phrase “giant sound” — yes! I type fast,too, especially on the computer (piano playing helps), but I’m not too speedy on the manual yet. Sometimes I think I go slower on purpose, just to relish the sound and feel of it. :) Thanks for your wonderful comment!

  8. It sounds like the perfect gift for you. I remember learning on my mum’s typewriter, and I miss the sound of the carriage return. But all in all I’m happy with my laptop – I changed to computers early on and haven’t looked back since. and yes I still have plenty of notebooks to hand, the trouble I have is finding nice pens!

    • Claire, I hear you loud and clear on the pen issue. They have a way of walking off! I finally found one I liked and got TWO. (Nothin’ fancy, but it fits my hand.) One stays with my clipboard & notebook paper at all times and the other one wanders around the house with me. Thanks for your thoughts on laptops, too!

  9. I love your new laptop. Wink. Wink. Although I do love the sounds of a typewriter and the clunky-ness of it, I do enjoy being able to save what I wrote–and deleting it when I feel like it. However, I do keep a notebook and love the art of writing with a pen. I have noticed that my handwriting has changed with the reality of computers.

    • Tracey, I loved your “winks” and comment. ;) I also recently read that handwriting may become a thing of the past… a loss. I view penmanship as an extension of personality, the “essence” of who a person is on paper. My handwriting changes by the day, mood, hour! And, as much as I balk about computers, yup… editing is a breeze. xo

  10. I love how easy it is to edit on a computer, but when I’m blocked, I need my notebook and pen. It’s that physical connection you talk about… the words just flow from my brain to my hand. I’m a fast typist, so it’s easy for me to transcribe later.

  11. I love your new laptop–I have an old typewriter and I love it. It will come in handy for ransom notes should the need ever arise :)

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