Everything New is Old Again


Underwood
Introducing my brand new writing tool: an Underwood 555 electric typewriter!

Those of you who have seen my Facebook page know I already have a cast-iron Royal manual typewriter (the first typewriter my mom bought for herself almost 60 years ago, and it still works like a charm). I love it, but the fact that it’s manual presents a problem. The lettering is a little uneven, and that that makes it tough for my OCR software to pick up what’s typed, meaning anything that I type on paper has to be completely retyped into the computer when it comes time to edit — a time-consuming pain in the ass. In fact, this blog post is being written on the old Underwood just to see if the software actually does pick up what’s on this piece of paper. I’ll post the results when it’s done. Whatever happens, this is the best $10 I’ve ever spent on Kijiji. This Underwood even uses the same ribbons as the Royal, so that’s convenient.

I know there are those of you who are asking why it matters since computers allow you to type things directly into them these days anyway. Keep in mind that while I am of the first generation that took to the Internet, I’m also of the last generation that came of age in a fully analog world — I didn’t have my first computer until I was 15. I appreciate the power and convenience computers give to writing, but there’s something about the visceral joy of hitting a key and having words slammed indelibly into a piece of paper. Once a word is on the page, there’s no second-guessing, no going back. The computer offers options, flexibility, ease of use; the typewriter is unforgiving, linear. For me, bashing out a first draft on a typewriter is like hauling a slab of granite home from the quarry on my back. Once a story is where it needs to be, I can start chiseling out the details with finer tools, aka LibreOffice‘s word processor.

And now for the results. Except for my own typos, which I would have had to fix anyway, OmniPage did a pretty good job of converting my mechanically generated document to digital. This is gonna be fun.

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