You’ve probably owned several computers so far, and it’s likely that they all looked pretty much the same. When the computer screen starts having display problems or the applications stop working or the keys on the keyboard finally get stuck in all of the coffee and crumbs you’ve spilled on them, you’ll make a backup of your files, find another computer in your price range, and make the switch. You probably won’t want to hold on to your old computer for sentimental purposes, or because it’s a work of art.
For people who use old-fashioned typewriters, it’s different. Authors who use manual typewriters say that they develop a relationship with the machine, and that the typewriter often takes on a personality of its own. The sound and feel of the keys contribute to a more physical experience, and the fact that early typewriters had no [Delete] key means that a writer either has to carefully think about and select their words, or just bash away in a free-flow mode without worrying about vocabulary and typos. Either way, writing is a more “hands-on” process with a manual typewriter.
In Los Angeles, Ermanno Marzorati repairs and restores antique typewriters for modern authors who like to do things the old-fashioned way. According to Marzorati, most of the repairs he does aren’t for collectors – people who buy old typewriters for their “vintage” value – but for writers who use their machines to create the scripts and stories that make them famous. Marzorati has repaired typewriters for author and actor Tom Hanks, and has restored machines that once belonged to well-known writers like Ian Fleming and Orson Welles.
Will a move back to “slow writing” mean more people return to using typewriters? After all, the “slow food” movement has led to more small-scale farmers around the world, getting back to a time when quality was valued over quantity, and the virtues of old-fashioned methods over modern efficiency is an ongoing argument in many other areas. Still, since even the best typist would find it hard to keep up with the speed of thought, slow writing doesn’t mean you have to give up fast typing!
You can read the full Agence France Presse article on Ermanno Marzorati’s work here.