Writing: What’s Your Process?

Today in class, we had a writing exercise where we were to write about a typewriter: either one in the class room, a specific other typewriter, or the typewriter in general. I chose to write about the one and only typewriter I’ve ever personally owned: a 1936 Royal Deluxe, very similar to the one shown below (that isn’t the one, but if you click on it you can go directly to the blog of the person who owns it).  However, I neither started nor finished as a person who used a typewriter.

Royal Deluxe

1936 – Royal Deluxe

My earliest writing was done in pencil or ink in a seemingly endless series of notebooks. In my teens, my preference was quite specific: I had to have black and white marble patterned composition book. But I was an early adopter when it came to the personal computer. My father had a Commodore Vic-20 in the house the moment it arrived on the market.  I was busily lining the text up on columns the best I could and sending them off to a dot-matrix printing. My interest in implements of writing went back even earlier: I used my mom’s boyfriend Rene’s typewriter (needless to say, my parents were divorced) when I was nine. I was twelve when my dad got the first Commodore.

Commodore Vic

Commdore Vic – 5 KB of pure power.

But the Commodore didn’t have the sheer power of the Royal, a found object that came at the best of all possible times. I was a nineteen year old girl who had just moved out of my middle-class family home in the suburbs of Honolulu (that is, Palolo Valley) for a dream of making it somehow, in San Francisco. That dream ended up in the Tenderloin.

Debris Box

Debris Box

One day when I was walking out of my crappy hotel on the corner of Eddy and Mason, I happened to walk past an industrial-sized pine-green colored debris box: for those who do not know what those are, they are like garbage bins, only much larger. They are often used for the removal of furniture and as this one was, for the removal of construction waste.  A hotel was under construction, and this container was being used for both. I can’t find a picture of a green one on the Internet (maybe in this day and age it stands for “recycling” or something”) but it basically looked like the orange one shown here.

I also paint, and I saw some boards that looked like they might be useful, so I

Sumiko in the late 80s

scaled the side of the box with my then-younger, then-130 pound body checking for potential canvases and ended up tumbling face forward over the edge into the waste receptacle. The boards were actually broken sheets of drywall, and didn’t look as though they would survive the trip back over the side of the bin, even if I were able to muster the strength to hoist one over. I was about to leave, when I saw the sunlight glint upon something dark and metal just so.

It looked like a typewriter.

I hefted a broken sheet of drywall off of the object and had a closer look. It was, indeed, a typewriter of what appeared to be cast iron, with round keys at the end of arms that jutted forth from it, angled like a spider’s leg. It looked more like a cash register than a typewriter, but a typewriter it was in deed. It was a typewriter with a sticky R key, but otherwise in functioning order. It was in the case in which it originally came: a thing like a beige suitcase with a handle in an amber colored plastic, as I recalled it. I have no idea who owned it before, but this was at the end of the 1980s so the typewriter was already a bit in excess of 50 years old even then. The Royal Typewriter favored by Ernest Hemingway was at least half a decade newer than this model.

I don’t use the same things to write now as I did then.

What do you use to write with?

Do you think it affects your writing process?

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~ by Sumiko Saulson on July 28, 2012.

One Response to “Writing: What’s Your Process?”

  1. Nowadays I keep notebooks full of character descriptions and scene cues and notes on story arch, very likely as a result of the year I spent in film school (Film Arts Foundation/STAND first time director’s program) back in 2001/2002. I write the story itself in a word processing program on the computer. Poetry is the only thing I still write the original draft of long-hand in a notebook.

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