Friday, July 25, 2008

#427 Acoustic Writing

#427 Acoustic Writing

A little pipsqueak mail order catalogue company is offering a typewriter for sale. Prediction: sales will not be brisk.

Many of a certain age long for the days when the typewriter was the best way to process words. (Still unsure here to what process word processors subject words. But that's another story for another time.) They long for the clack clack clack of the keys. They long for the "feel of the road" as you typed -- be it with nine eight fingers (the thumb is not a finger,) or two. They long for the days when there were only enough keys to put words on papers -- the days before "F1" or "num lock" or "PrtSc," "Ctrl" and "alt."

But they fail to remember the downside of typewriters and the upside of "Word" or "Write" or "WordPerfect" software. They fail to remember what it was like digging the eraser droppings out of the typewriter keys. They fail to remember the break-in-thought that happened every time you had to push the carriage return. They fail to remember the week of black fingers after you changed a typewriter ribbon, which you never did often enough.

So, yeah, you can buy a typewriter. It's a great paperweight. If you still use paper.

It's hard for an older writer to admit this, but the fastest path from your brain to your fingers to your page is a computer program. And the fastest way to revise is without an eraser.

There will always be a place for acoustic writing. The clack of the keys, the pen on paper, the scratch of the quill on parchment. But not for everyday use. The clip clip clip sound of fingers on computer keys will never replace the steam-hammer sound of typewriter keys. But it's a lot easier on your fingers. Same with the pen or pencil. After awhile you get writer's cramp.

Plus, portable typewriters are like early portable televisions. You need real muscle to port them.

Further, you can use your notebook computer in Starbucks or McDonald's without causing a fuss. Can you imagine the double-chocolate-half-calf-frappacino crowd in the coffee shop when you set your 1949 Royal on a table and go clackityclackityclack for half an hour?

They'd take away your whipped cream privileges and ban you for life if you did that.

Typewriters are cute and nostalgic. But even in today's world of anything-goes, they're rude.


--A new report says little airports have a better record for on-time arrivals and departures than the big ones. That's fine. Except at most of those smaller airports, you can't get there from here.

---Here's the next big thing in criminal defense. And the shrinks say this is real. You have a delusion in which you believe you're the subject of your own, personal reality TV show.

--Hint to the mentally fit: You are NOT the subject of your own reality TV show. It's not reality TV. It's a soap opera.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.(R)
(C)WJR 2008


Monda said...

Actually, I've typed quite a bit on old machine at coffee shops. It's not nearly as rude as, oh say...talking on cell phones in a coffee shop.

Of course, I really hate cell phones, so that might just be me.

Sure, a laptop is easier for creating Perfect Documents The First Time, but I don't mind a little first-draft sloppiness. The typewriter makes me think before I write.

There IS something about the clack clack of the keys and the sweet bell at the end of a line, though. There are scads of us out here living in the past and slamming away at the keys.

Love the term "acoustic" writing, by the way.

Anonymous said...

I keep my old Royal typewriter with the the right-wrist tab in my loft as a reminder of great times. My dad encouraged my learning of Spanish when he bought it for me my first year of high school--he had Spanish keys put on it. And when I had it repaired about 10 years ago in Scarsdale, the chap "repaired" the unbroken accent key and made it skip a space when it should have been a null. Anyway, I learned to type about 95 wpm on that thing. Try to find a ribbon for a Royal typewriter! If anyone knows how, let me know at Thnx.

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