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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Orwig

Typing on Typewriters

Updated: Aug 17, 2020

Many winters ago, one of my best friends in the world gave me a typewriter for Christmas. A big hulking metal 1920’s Royal beast of a click clacking machine—it weighs a good 50 pounds!

We, of course, started a short story on it promptly. And then another. Laughing as we made mistakes and found the backspace key was absolutely useless (we didn’t have white out) and it actually dinged every time it finished a row and zipped back into its proper place! How enthralled we were by such a simple movement. In my eleven by seven square foot room stacked with books, we sat for over an hour. No screen. Only metal keys, an ink ribbon, a piece of paper, and our imagination.


The keys are heavy, solid, fingers dipping much further to WHACK the letter against the ribbon with enough force to leave an imprint behind. Slower, going to fast caused mistakes or sticky keys. Metal on paper on roller. It slides along the line nearing the end – Ding! It slides back. But we have to remember to roll the knob to clear enough space for the next line, square it off as best we can and we’re ready to click and clack, up and down, left to right until a word, sentence, paragraph is reached to our desire. Pressed ink appearing on smooth page. Instantaneously. Computers although faster and sleeker with greatly reduced errors don’t feel this magical anymore. Maybe they once did, but after years and too many hours spent upon them writing out essays and applications, this feels new. And better.   

To me it is a form of mediation. One must go slowly, purposefully, carefully, paying attention in the present moment to what you’re doing each step of the way. Too far ahead and your fingers will miss typing a word or letter now. Too much in the past focusing on the mistakes that’ve come before, and you won’t be able to type ahead. 

I couldn’t imagine writing hundreds of pages of a novel or screenplay (and rewriting them too!) on a typewriter. Not without my backspace/delete key, or my speed on keyboard tiles that are stationary and a quarter of the size of the typewriter keys.

But for thank you notes, poems, letters, and the like, I think it gives a quirky, homemade, nostalgic touch to any piece. A weight to it. Like a polaroid sliding out moments after it’s taken. A different quality in its being that makes it feel real. Realer then the words I type now.

Between moves, a storage shed, and a dry ink ribbon, my solid machine was looking a little worse for wear. Rust and sticky keys clogging up the ease I used to write with. So, after a good while searching on the internet for a Typewriter Repair business (they were harder to find then I thought!), I happened to find Charly’s Collection and Typewriter Repair.     

I gave my typewriter to Charly and just look how beautiful it is now! Couldn’t be more pleased with it. Charly is such a wonderful, gifted woman! If you need a typewriter cleaned up, fixed up, or loved in South East Michigan, Charly is who’d I’d recommend to connect with!

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