Sunday, December 19, 2010

Beagles, Bulldogs, and A Brother

It was a dark and stormy night.*

It was the kind of dark and stormy night that sent me sliding down a muddy hill. So muddy it soaked right through to my underwear - true story.

But I was hurrying, you see, and no amount of mud or rain was going slow me down.

I slogged home, changed clothes, and jumped in my car. The windshield wipers barely kept up with the rain – never mind the speed of my driving.

And why was I hurrying?

I found a typewriter.

After searching online, I found a Brother Electronic PY-80 Typewriter – only 7 years old. The magic words “$15.00 – obo – no offer refused!” drew me in further. I wrote the seller, and after a breathless day (for me), she responded – it was still for sale!

What are the chances?!

So I raced through that dark and stormy night to the seller’s house. The Divine Miss M. (name withheld), along with her two English Bulldogs who kept snuffling in my purse looking for treats, sold me the treasure for a mere $13.00. I learned the typewriter had been her grandmother’s who used it to type her Christmas cards, and I felt guilty – I should have offered her double for this gem.

Cradling my prize like a newborn baby, I ran through the rain to my car, and made it home in one piece. I plugged it in and starting typing!

With members of my family complaining it sounded like a sub-machine gun, I pounded away, getting used to the feel and sound of it. Look at me everyone -I am a WRITER! If Hemingway could see me now!

With every keystroke, the permanent crease-of-concentration between my eyebrows became....more permanent. Like a four-legged race, I tripped and stumbled over words I could usually spew forth with grace and style (I said USUALLY). This wasn’t as easy as I thought.

Lack of automatic wrap-around and waiting for the typewriter to catch up with my typing, never mind the clunky feeling compared to my computer, made it a challenge. With the correction tape malfunctioning, my paper looked like I was back in Grade 8 typing class. Discarded paper riddled with typos and disjointed thoughts piled up.

But I loved it. I felt ‘grounded’ to this ‘rustic’ way of writing, and took a few days to practice with it. I had to really think about what I was going to say before I typed. Computers truly are designed to keep up with this fast-paced world – or do they just make us go faster? We rely on the backspace and delete keys, never mind Ctrl C and Ctrl V (copy and view) to see us through.

I soldiered on, determined to make it work. With every keystroke and carriage return, I learned a few things;

• Slow down and think about what I want to write. I very often write in longhand before typing it on the computer, and there is no reason why I can’t do so with a typewriter. But the lack of backspace/delete/correction tape, never mind oodles of paper piling up, really made me SLOW DOWN.

• Sometimes it’s important to take a few steps back, to go many steps forward. Going back to the old ways made me appreciate the new, what I have, and how to better manage my writing.

I do intend to keep writing on my trusty typewriter. I love it, and know I have yet to learn much more from it.


As you will note from my entry of December 12th, my plan was to conduct a time travel experiment, and write this week’s blog entry on my beloved typewriter.

Between writing some of it with pen and paper then transcribing it to the typewriter, as well as ‘typewriting’ some of it straight from brain to paper, I did write it (most of it) on my darling typewriter. It was a challenge, but a challenge I welcomed with open arms.

With the rain pelting down once again outside – yet another dark and stormy night – I sat down to write the FINAL (with minimal typos) draft (as above) on the typewriter, as promised. The plan was to later use the COMPUTER and all its funky features of scanning, converting, and a whole bunch of other techno stuff I don’t want to bore you with, to post my typewritten story.

I typed the first few four lines and....crap!

Looks like I’ll be going online to shop for typewriter ribbon cartridges – go figure.

(*Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1830; Snoopy, July 12, 1965)


  1. I remember rushing home with a twenties era Underwood I found at a garage sale but I can't say I ever typed on it. Of course given it's age, a good number of its keys stick and the ribbon dried up long ago. Which is fine, it makes a nice addition to my office. But I love the idea of traveling backwards. Looking forward to more posts on the project.

  2. I'm amused that your menfolk find your new baby too noisy – if they're anything like my menfolk, they like nothing better than a movie with explosions, and video games full of car crashes or battles complete with M16s.
    Add a typewriter to the house, though – that's outrageous!

  3. Hi Ryshia, thank you for writing - and at this busy time of year! Yes, eventhough it's an electronic typewriter, as opposed to your lovely old twenties era Underwood (which I would love to have), I WAS traveling backwards! Stay tuned, and happy writing!

  4. Rachel - that was exactly what I was thinking! I have to compete with games and movies, ducking at every gunshot I hear, to cean the bathroom in peace! L