I fed the paper through the roller, flicked the bar down and sat, staring at it. It flashed its metallic grin back at me. Starting has always been the hardest part. A blank screen and the rhythmic blink of the cursor has long been a kind of nemesis of mine: …come…on…come…on. But this was different. The page was just as blank as the screen, but there was no cursor. No prompt.
I sat before a 1969 Underwood 310 manual typewriter. Made in Spain by Olivetti, these portable devices were once ubiquitous: the notebook computers of their age. This one was a donation to the Queensland Writers Centre, courtesy of a member who wanted to be rid of it. It was the first one I had seen in a while. My parents had a similar model at home when I was a kid1; they even dug it out of a shed and brought over for me to try, dried out ribbon and all. So, though I suddenly had access to two machines, only the Underwood was up to the task.((Contrary to what you might think, typewriter ribbon is not all that difficult to find.))
A moment passed between the machine and me and I was given to wonder why I had volunteered for this in the first place. Why would anyone willingly eschew their still new MacBook Air and commence writing on this antiquated piece of kit in 2013? Continue Reading →
My mother was a professional typist, though I only remember her working on upscale electric models ↩