Does a Typewriter Help You Write?

I attended Wordcamp Manila 2018 yesterday at the iAcademy in Yakal, Makati and it was fun. Overall, a valiant effort by a growing body of WordPress users representing a cross-section of the different kinds of people who use WordPress whether as end-user such as bloggers and seller sites, or as back-end, those involved in the programming and functionality.

iAcademyAs a blogger, I made the most of the event by trying to find front-end users like myself. Where I could, I also spoke with programmers who expressed themselves fluently, contrary to the expectations of a female presenter who portrayed techies as introverted and uncommunicative. She actually introduced the first techie guest speaker as being “makapal ang mukha” because he liked to give talks. Tsk, tsk, not even in jest, ma’am.

I was very fortunate because I found someone who was a seasoned blogger with extensive programming experience in the WordPress. While it would certainly have worked against me had I chosen to see myself marginalized as a “beginner” or a “superbeginner” as so crassly phrased by one of the presenters, I saw this as an opportunity to find ways to improve on the blog (this blog!) and to also connect with other existing or would-be bloggers.

Getting back to the chap I met, I expressed to him my passion for collecting antique typewriters to which he responded by saying he had one back home in Davao himself. Naturally he asked the next logical question when it comes to the declaration of collecting typewriters: “What do you do with them?” After going into the acquisition and restoration aspects which are large parts of the hobby. I got into what one does with a typewriter.

I explained that personally, I had found typewriters a boon to my writing for certain reasons.

One, typewriters are singular in their function. They are designed to type, that is, to write. Certainly you could get creative with the use of a typewriter, and maybe get it to do what you want it to do, but that is strictly not what typewriters were designed for.

This means that you can only sit there and write. Or just sit there. You won’t be able to surf the internet, you won’t be able to look at the nuances of a word you want to use, you won’t be able to peek at comments to your latest FB post, nothing. Which means it severely limits you to writing. And that’s not a bad thing.

Then there’s the idiosyncrasies of an old typewriters. You will discover, whether to your dismay or delight, that old typewriters are somewhat like old people. They develop their own quirks. Quirks like the way they like their keys punch, the speed at which you can punch the keys, letters that tend to stick, returns that don’t fully go back or have to be nudged back a bit, and such. These quirks may get on your nerves, or depending on your mindset, become the character marks of your machine. Unless the quirk gets in the way of your writing, you learn early on to take these hiccups in stride, and learn to Tango with your writer’s friend.

Tom Hanks, now made more famous to typewriter collection enthusiasts by his admission to having a collection of over 200 machines, spoke of the qualities of sound made by typewriters. Some go “thak!” with the sharp authority of a micro sound barrier breaking as the supersonic slug hits the platen, while other might go with a more genteel “thuuk” yet able to produce just as clear an imprint. I have one, a Remington Noiseless standard from the 50s, that when I use, I have to look up from time to time to see if the machine really typing. Most of the sound it makes comes from the linkages, not so much from impacting the platen.

These sounds are the audible feedback that signal to you that you have reached the kind of rhythmic speed that your typewriter likes. It becomes part of the hypnotic loop, the writing experience. Just that sound, the ticking of the clock on the wall perhaps, or some heart-broken Sinatra crooning in the background. And the writing flows, punctuated re-gularly by you reaching for the return lever to reveal yet another line of the page.

And I don’t correct much on typewriters. I repress the urge to retype, to respell, to correct. Instead I skip over and continue writing. A pencil nearby helps me cross out the portions deleted, but I write to write and not to make a final product. Editing is a lot easier for me than producing the creative work and as such, the typewriter has turned into a tool for releasing the powers of creation.

I probably would have gone on with even more things I liked about collecting typewriters, but our seminar speakers had arrived and it was time to get Wordcamp Manila 2018 on the road.

P.S. The Wordcamp Manila 2018 came to resounding close with food, drinks, and song at Centerstage KTV at Jupiter Street that evening, a fitting end to a commendable effort to reach out to all people who in one way or another work with WordPress. Despite the hiccups (remember, baby steps, baby steps), I rate this event a success and definitely look forward to joining next years, armed with better WordPress skills and a much improved blog. Or blogs. Hopefully the latter.

 

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s