By Michael McCarty
Writers and typewriters go together like Ketchup and French Fries, Baseball and Beer and books in a 3-Volume of a book series.
Sure these days writers are doing their manuscripts on computers, smartphones, tabloids, yada-yada-yada …. yawn. For some of the 19th Century, all of the 20th Century and even into some of the 21st Century the typewriter was a writer’s best friend into other technologies have taken over.
Yeah, I’m old … so I learned on a typewriter.
My first typewriter was when I was a teenager was an Underwood. My mom bought it at a garage sale, it was a big metal clunker that weighed a ton …. and it had a little black and red typewriter ribbon, when you changed it, always left your finger black and red. The Underwood, is the kinda of typewriter that you would see in the old Superman TV series. My mom said that was a typewriter she learned to type on so that is why she bought it for me. I learned to type on it … but it was hard as hell. It was manually and had to push one key at a time as hard as you could, but that is what I typed my first manuscript on. It was called THE WEREWOLF INVASION. I thought I wrote it was about 14 or 15. It was about this woods outside a big city that these werewolves take over and four friends decided to go camping, run into the werewolves and spend the rest of the book running from them.
A year or so later, my mom’s friend came to visit her in Iowa and she brought her electric typewriter with her. I never used an electric typewriter before. My mom’s friend said I could try it. You see, my mom and her friend were both typist in the Navy. My mom said, be very careful, because you don’t have to press as hard as on the Underwood. I tried this IBM typewriter, and it was super easy to use compared to the Underwood (which I believe, was also the typewriter that Stephen King used starting out … I could be wrong).
Anyway, I decided, I would save up my money and buy an IBM typewriter. In high school, I took typing and they used the IBM Selectric. which had the ball. That machine, I could type super fast with it something like 90 or 95 words a minute. I couldn’t afford the IBM Selectric, it was way out of my high school budget of working at the drive-in money. I did buy an IBM electric typewriter and wrote two books: RISING OF THE DEMONS (horror) and UNO (which would be now considered a YA comedy) all three books didn’t get published were lost over the course of time (UNO came close, chapter one was published in the West High School magazine “Eyas” and sent to a publisher for consideration but was rejected like the other two were).
In the meantime. When I was a teenager, I heard that Ernest Hemingway typed standing up. And I thought, that must be a cool way a writer types. I learned to type standing up (although I wasn’t very fast doing it that way). Then my bubbled burst; I learned the reason he was typing stand up was because of hemorrhoids, so I sat my ass back down on the chair and learned to type faster. LOL
(The way he typed standing up was this:
he perched his typewriter on a shelf … which is kinda cool)
After my years on a typewriter, which did get me through college and several years writing as a freelance writer. I decided to up my technology and get a word processor. The year was 1993. I just got a regular freelance gig with “The Rock Island Argus”/ “Moline Dispatch” — where I could write a Sunday column on local entertainment, but my editor, said I could branch out to bigger stories too.
I wanted a word processor, so I had my dad put on on his Best Buy credit card. I figured, if I wrote 1 column a week … I could pay it off in a year. I paid it off in 6 months, because the word processor editing was a lot easier than doing it on a typewriter. I had that word processor for 10 years, but I got my first computer… which is another column for another day.
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Features Horror, Science Fiction and Dark Fantasy’s most influential writers and filmmakers interviewed about the art and craft of their genres.
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MODERN MYTHMAKERS by Michael McCarty
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