I think if one considers themselves a writer, they have a deep desire to peck out the great novel on an old fashioned typewriter. Now this does not mean you are not a writer if you don’t have this desire. There is something about the tactile quality, the loud clacking forward and back of the metal hinges with the letters attached at the top, the metal bar at the end of the paper roll that you hit and swing the whole thing back to the beginning. It’s lovely and mechanic. It’s loud and slow. Methodical.
I haven’t used a typewriter in like a hundred years. The last one I had was electric. It was missing all the charm of the old, heavy metal typewriters. It was grey and plastic. Quite depressing.
All the great writers likely used the antiquated typewriter. How they must have labored over it, pounded all of the keys at once in frustration, or when they were on a roll, their fingers flew effortlessly with a delightful rat tat tat. The machine, an extension of their minds, allowing the words bound up inside to finally be set free.
I have often thought about what it means to be a writer. If I were to call myself one, I would say it is akin to some kind of infection. A deep seething infestation that bubbles and churns, grows into an abscess of sorts and needs to come to the surface. It has to come out. Then you just feel better.
I could also equate it to an event I experienced with my son. Writhing in pain, grasping at the abdomen, my oldest breathless and sweaty, Oh my stomach, it hurts sooo BAD! He is simultaneously wincing and crying, his arms wrapped around the source of pain. This is serious! When all of a sudden, he lets loose the biggest fart of all time. He smiles with great pride and bounds off to play. The thoughts of it must be an appendicitis, we better get to the hospital, still lingering in the air, like his giant fart.
That is writing. It can’t be helped. It can’t be stopped. It must be let loose. And then you feel better. For a while.
Photo credit: Chris Howell