Thursday, July 18, 2019

Bigly Typers or Shrimp Typers?

Scootering to Sweet Cup
“Bigly Typers or Shrimp Typers?”

The Bigly Typer:

The Shrimp Typer:

Post-Script: They're both good word threshers. One's obviously more portable than the other. For me, the key to entering into that creative zone is being able to focus on the words in my head, my fingers on keys and, to a lesser extent, ink on paper, without excessive fuss or distraction. The Behemoth Olympia SG-3 achieves this by its in-your-face massiveness: it literally blocks your view of distractions in front of you, while elevating the printing position so you're looking forward, not down at the table.

For the shrimp typers, the challenge for me is not getting distracted by the machine's less-than-optimal performance, or erratic behavior. For example, I'd sat at this very same spot in Sweet Cup's loft the day before, with the Hermes Rocket and the same type of coffee drink, and didn't have the same creative flow going. Certainly, we can feel more or less creative one day to the next, but something about the Skyriter's keyboard just felt more natural. I don't even think it had to do with its more ergonomical carriage return lever, either. Funny enough, there were a few skips with the Skyriter that the Rocket didn't have, yet I got along better with the Skyriter.

I noticed midway through the piece that, because of the seating position, my eyes were closer to the machine than at a normal-height desk and chair setup, helping me to focus on the keyboard and helping to reduce distractions; yet I didn't sense that the day before with the Rocket. I guess that's the mystery of creative writing, trying to figure out why one day it works and the next day it doesn't.

These brief moments of inspiration aren't predictable; one has to be prepared to strike (literally!) at a moment's notice; hence the reason to always have a machine set up at home, or in a grab-&-go bag, ready for action.

There's a confidence I have when writing on the SG-3 that I don't often have on these shrimp typers, and it has to do with reliability. Less chance for hick-up or glitch with the big fellow, one less thing to pull my mind away from the inner dialog, that's so fragile to maintain. I have this same confidence on reliable machines like the Smith-Corona Silent-Super, that's pretty much living up to its name.

I think one secret to creative writing with manual typewriters is this issue of reliability. It's not that we must go down the rabbit hole of joining a cult (Hermes, Olympia - pick your poison), but rather that the still small voice inside us remains small and faint, we have to find those nagging distractions and eliminate them. Some machines are just more reliable than others, meaning we have more time to join those fragile chains of thought together. I think you can catch a glimpse of this when you see photos of 20th century writers with their machines. Many authors switched from one machine to the other, finally choosing one brand or model because it just works. It's all too easy to forget this when we are mainly collectors and hobbyists.

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Blogger Bill M said...

I'd love to have an SG-3, but for now I'll stick with a Behemoth called a Hermes Ambassador. Its footprint is so huge it takes up an entire typing table top with no room to spare when the table wings are down.

There is something special about using a Skyriter compared to many of the other small portables. They, as in their larger cousins, all have a unique touch, but I find it difficult to surpass the Skyriter.

I recently took to using a Brother Charger 11 for bicycle typing only because they are so cheap and plentiful (like Skyriters used to be). I figure if it gets damaged I will be able to replace it. It has a better touch than either of my Babies/Rockets or the Montanas. Not as nice as the Skyriter or its older cousin the Valiant.

1:38 PM  
Blogger Mike A. said...

I really enjoyed this Joe. It’s nice to see compare/contrast. My big machine is a royal KMG and the little one is a Royal Royalite. Two machines from the same company and so very different.

The machine size doesn’t affect my writing as much as the environment. The noise and music in the coffee shops seems to give me more momentum. At home, though, the quiet seems to distract me more than the noise and I find my mind wandering all over the place - causing me to chase to chase squirrels. Of course, I haven’t had the urge to drag the KMG to the cafe, so I can’t make that comparison.

8:20 PM  
Anonymous John Tapp said...

My name is John. I have been interested in typewriters for sometime now. Forty years--not as a professional, albeit I do all my own repairs. I've even thrown away some very interesting machines (ones that got away). Oh, but the stories I've got to tell. I'm 51, and I started typing when I was 11, and repairing them when I was 13.

One of my most interesting stories has to be about my beloved bigot--a 1952 Royal HH upright manual. I first saw it at Sul Ross Elementary School, sixth grade. I so wanted to try it out but I was scared they would say no, so I never asked. I was told it had pica type and the letter C stuck.

2006, a trustee comes to my door with another typewriter from the same place and this machine!! I could tell this was the one because of some of the chewed up screws, it had pica type, and the letter C stuck--which I very carefully unstuck. I traded him out with a 1960 Royal FP. I also notice that on the '52, the upper and lower H droop. I'll leave it like that. A beautiful smile with one crooked tooth. But I never felt a smoother touch or carriage throw. This thing's gonna outlive me!!

8:14 PM  

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