Nine out of every ten cliches about writers threaten to make the cords connecting my eyeballs to my brain snap for eye rolling that is just. so. hard. Not only because they are cliches, but because I can’t relate to them. Obsessing over typewriters. Being eccentric. Finding train travel romantic. Always needing more time to do everything. Always being in the middle of 14 books. Basically just being a ridiculous person. Every BuzzFeedish list titled, “You’re Probably a Writer If…” leaves me saying, “Whelp, guess I’m ‘probably’ not a writer. According to this listicle.”
I wonder how many of these things that we, as writers, simply emulate because we think they are writerly behaviors, not updating to jive with reality. For example, I do not have a romantic attachment to typewriters because I’ve never written a damn thing on a typewriter. Nor have I observed writers I admire doing so. I can’t imagine how anyone from my generation truly feels differently. What does makes me nostalgic, what I would find romantic to bang out a novel on, is an old, IBM, click-clack keyboard.
Is there a name for this thing? Other than “old keyboard?” No? Ok. Well, there should be. Anyway. I can sort of relate to the idea of finding typewriters romantic only because of all the time I spent as a child sitting at our family computer in front of one of these things. Being a little kid, I didn’t have much to compose, but I loved typing on it. I’d go through the alphabet. Click-ka, click-ka, click-ka. Type out song lyrics from my piano books. Click-ka, click-ka, click, click click-ka. Write entire paragraphs that read something like, “I am typing. La la la la. I have nothing to say really, but I am typing because I like it and someday I’m going to write something really long.” Click-ka, click-ka, click-ka click, click click-ka.
Maybe many writers do have their first writing experiences on typewriters, so maybe that cliche ends up being accurate for them. I can see why. Fulfilling a childhood wish, like “writing something really long” in the same manner you imagined yourself doing it at the time, is the height of reveling in nostalgia. And if there is one writer cliche that rings absolutely true for me, it’s that we’re supposed to be nostalgic. Guilty. For me, however, it’s not shopping for an old, 40-pound typewriter that makes me feel wistful. It’s waiting for someone to make a bluetooth enabled IBM click-clack keyboard. Come on, technology people. Make me one, please.