A Story of . . .
typewriters, books, collecting, writing, and author David McCullough
There's something about a typewriter (or a book about typewriters), that gets me every time. Today it was The Typewriter Revolution by Richard Polt. The book covers a good bit about the mechanics of a typewriter and a lot about the renewed popularity of the machine including the people and events that support it — have you heard of a type-in?
The Typewriter Revolution was new to me. I have two other books about typewriters that are worth a look. The Typewriter by Janine Vangool, is a beautiful volume loaded with vintage advertisements and photographs.
The other is Typewriter, by Tony Allan that features Richard Polt as consultant. This is a condensed volume chock full of interesting bits about the history of the machine, the typewriter in advertising, solving crimes, its impact on journalism, and today's type-in.
In addition to the books, I have a collection of typewriters (that's one of them underneath the books), and a few vintage ribbon tins. The typewriters are great fun for writing letters and addressing envelopes.
It's no coincidence that these books have all been published in the last year. Typewriters are enjoying renewed popularity. Maybe it's a reaction to so much screen time, maybe the wonder of a simple machine. Hipsters and people of all ages are in.
Author David McCullough has used the same typewriter for over 50 years to write all of his books, despite offers from friends and family to switch to a more modern writing device, the computer. He talks about his typewriter in this interview with The Paris Review.
Last spring our local library held a makers fare that featured a typewriter repair session hosted by Tom Furrier of Cambridge Typewriter. I'm hoping it will be part of this year's fair as well . . . I'm having trouble loading the ribbon on one of my machines. If you need repairs, contact Tom. He's friendly and generous in sharing his knowledge about typewriters.
Actor Tom Hanks collects typewriters and has developed an app that recreates the sound and look of typing on a typewriter (link below). Fun, but nothing beats the real thing.
Here are some links:
The Classic Typewriter Page - Richard Polt's site
The Typewriter - Janine Vangool's site about the typewriter
Typosphere all things typewriters
Hanx Writer - an app that recreates the sound and look of typing on a typewriter
The Anitkey Chop - a gallery of typewriters and people using typewriters
Cambridge Typewriter - Tom Furrier's shop and blog
Below is a page design I created that includes four of my typewriters along with two word puzzles. Post a comment with your answers . . . if you're stumped, let me know, and I'll post the answers.
SprinG, just FoUr DAys AWAy
AnD, The croCus are UP
. . . CaUgHt mE by sURprise
WhEn thEY caUgHt my eYe
Walk About is a collage and poem series about what I see when I walk, and is part of our Always a Project series.
What to Do When It’s Your Turn (and it’s always your turn) by Seth Godin is an interesting book. It’s really a challenge. He’s asking us all to put aside our fears and the need for approval, and start something.
To begin that project, to create something, to do something. He challenges us to begin—despite the fact that there are no guarantees, despite the fact that you may or may not be in the mood.
None of this matters. To begin is what matters.
I think he’s right. This website has been around for a while now, but in January I decided that I would commit to posting something every day. Up until then my posting schedule was a mash-up of starts and stops, dependent upon a rush of enthusiasm or inspiration. Posting every day hasn’t been easy. But it hasn’t been all that difficult either. Some days I struggle with what to write about, finding new people to interview, and making the time, but I’m doing it.
I’m not sure why it’s different this time, but I think it has something to do with what Mr. Godin writes in his book: “Standing still is the riskiest plan of all.” I believe that. I've found standing still creates more anxiety and angst than writing every day ever does.
So if the question is “What to do when it’s your turn?” I say take it.
It’s more exciting, more interesting, and far more rewarding than sitting it out.
Digging through some older files last weekend I came upon these stationery folders. They are designed to hold a few pieces of stationery, stamps, and a tip sheet. I liked them when I created them, but wondered if they were right. I still needed to create the stationery and tip sheet, so I put the project aside . . . not ready for whatever reason, for lots of reasons, for no reason.
Putting them aside and finding them nearly two years later gives me a fresh perspective. The concept needs a tweak or two, but it's a good start. I want to incorporate these folders into a new project I've got going.
The title of this post is "Sometimes I Surprise Myself." Why? Because I like what I created and the concept, the reason I made the folders, is still with me. So why did I stop working on it?
Timing? Other priorities? Distraction? Uncertainty?
No matter, it's time to move forward, and I'm taking them with me.
A Story of . . .
American history, needlework, conservation efforts, music, and poetry
This is a Calendar of Days post: National Anthem Day
AT THE LIBRARY: Travels With Charley
John Steinbeck’s travelogue of his 1960 journey across the United States in a small camper alongside his dog, Charley. Although Steinbeck was well known by the time he took the trip, he was confident that most people wouldn’t recognize him. And they didn’t . . . just a man and his dog traveling down the road.
This is a Calendar of Days post, it’s Library Lovers’ month.
Years ago, I hosted a Valentine's Day letter event and wanted to offer people some suggestions for writing a love letter. But I had two concerns:
1) it had to be easy
2) it was important to emphasize that love letters are not just for lovers
So I created a template, an easy fill-in-the-blanks love letter. And people really liked it.
This year I wanted to create a new version. Because I've been wanting to experiment with collage, hand-lettering, working off-line, and keeping things loose, this was the project I picked.
Below is the finished piece. Be sure to download the fill-in-the-blanks love letter along with a stationery sheet, write a letter, and say something nice to someone you love.
Oh, I love mail, and I've had my eye on this gem for a while. It's the Letter Writers Alliance Pigeon Post, and it comes with everything needed to mail it. Yep, you can mail the pigeon (no box necessary)—fits into the blue mail box on the corner. I'm so excited I may send it to myself and then to someone else when it comes back. I'll keep you posted!
Don't Write, Read!
Don’t write, read . . . about how to write. While it’s true that practice makes perfect, practice alone won’t make your writing better.
These books are three of my favorites.
When I started writing my book Postmark, A Guide to Writing More Letters, Cards, and Notes, I re-read these books as I wrote. Just a chapter a day. As I read and wrote, I became more aware of structure, word choices, punctuation, tense, and rhythm.
Writing is a lot of rewriting. Tedious? Sometimes. But without it, readers will get confused and they won’t stay.
One way I like to practice writing is by writing letters. I start with a piece of scrap paper and draft my letter— scribbles, arrows, crossed-out words and sentences fill the sheet (it would be a terrible waste of stationery otherwise). When I’m ready to rewrite on better paper, stationery, or inside a blank card, I’m more confident that my writing is solid, easier to read, and more interesting.
Sure, write a letter to your mum and she’ll probably read every word. But if you’re writing a blog or a book, sloppy writing makes a poor impression. Make it the best it can be. Hone your skill by reading and studying the work of great writers, read books about how to write, then write, and rewrite.
Athletes have coaches and actors are guided by directors, why not you? Take a course, join a writing group, find an editor, or grab a how-to book at the library. It will make you a better writer.
If you're going to be a writer, be a good one.
What are you writing? How do you edit and review your work? How do you hone your skills? Got a tip? Share it with us, we want to know!
This is a Calendar of Days post - today is Opposite Day.