Wednesday, December 7, 2011
my most deftly written tweet
When I was a kid, my parents had an old blue typewriter. They never used it, even before we got our first computer. I am not sure why they even had one. It sat in it's case, tucked away in the basement collecting dust. I was the only one in the family who ever took notice of the thing. Every now and then I would drag it out, clean it off and haul it clunking up the stairs to my bedroom. I would search around for plain white paper, load it up, and begin to type. I wrote stories. Kid stories, adventure stories, mysteries. They were short and sweet and typed very poorly, but I loved the click clack of that old machine. The grumble it made when I slid the carriage back to the beginning, and the ding when I got to the end of the line. I can still hear the sounds.
If I turn off the hum of the computer for a moment.
Yesterday I signed up for twitter. It's the second time I have, in fact. Two years ago, I tried it for about two months and I had not nearly enough interest or witty things to say to qualify to be a good tweeter. Everyone says that to be up and coming in the publishing world, or probably any world, you have to be connected via facebook, LinkedIn, and of course, twitter. So I signed on again, to give it another go. I can see the appeal, and the instant gratification of seeing what others in your field are talking about. It's quick, it's fast, and talk about short and sweet!
Unfortunately I am not a fan. On a deeper level for me, it feels like going in the wrong direction. I feel like my life is already divided up into so many categories and sections, like I am already moving so fast, and I have so much stimulation from the world, I question whether I need to make my thoughts smaller and snappier, rather than calmer and more broad. Not to mention that in less that 5 hours of being on it I have 6 followers, only one of which is not a spammer!
But I will say that the Twitter got me thinking of my parents blue typewriter off in typewriter heaven somewhere. And in complete rebellion to the world of instantaneous interaction, I pulled out my own old machine.
My typewriter is an old Royal Quiet Deluxe found at a junk store. Amazingly, old typewriters each have a serial number scratched into them somewhere, and those numbers have been digitalized by someone with a lot of time. Thus the computer age allowed me to find lists of typewriter manufacturers, and discover exactly when my individual typewriter was built. Turns out my little mechanical wonder was made in 1945.
It's a sparkly little thing, and I adore it. The ribbon in it still has ink, and none of the keys stick. I am lead to imagine where this thing lived it's life before ending up in a junk store, what words it rolled out, and for whom. It almost feels as if I could roll the carriage backwards and spill out every word this machine ever had spinning through it.
I like the typewriter because it is mechanical. I can see what is going on. I can take it apart and look inside it, and know that putting pieces back in the right places will not be too difficult. There is no mystery in the machine itself. The mystery and magic has to come straight from the user to be processed through the tool.
I suppose it's not so different now. If we don't let it be. Computers are a simple tool and don't contain magic either, despite the fact that many of us seem to have been mesmerized by them.
I've been running around frantically lately, trying to prepare for Christmas, working on creating new holiday meaning for my family, doing all the regular chores, dealing with a dog who is obsessed with the dead deer in the woods, and carving out time to write. If I had to type out all my thoughts on a typewriter, then revise it and type it again, well, it would never happen. I'd just stick to gossiping. On the other hand, if ten times a day I have to spit out my best 140 characters for you to read as my brain clogs up with it all, I might skip that just the same.
My sense is that there has to be some place in between the slowest lane of life people once wandered along, and the ultra fast pace at which life currently spins by. Neither is really the right speed for this job. For me. But somewhere in there, there is a balance point. I just have to find it. How about I just clank out my most deftly written tweet on the typewriter, and mail it to you.