RLF Collected

Following on from my previous post, Progress?, here’s my latest piece for the Royal Literary Fund’s online magazine, Collected: Typeface: in Praise of Typewriters.

You can find my previous Collected-related post here.


I’m a writer, Royal Literary Fund Fellow, and Advisory Fellow.
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Progress?

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As far as I’m concerned these two devices allow me to do exactly the same thing: write. They’re both portable, admittedly one more so than the other, yet they couldn’t be more different.

One cost me around a thousand pounds, the other fifty. One of them is less than a year old and will probably last me five or six years if I’m lucky. It kinda does the job, but I don’t particularly enjoy it, because the keyboard’s shite and it secretes my words away somewhere within its glass and metal shell, as if they are somehow its property rather than mine. The other is around 60 years old, and if used and not abused will probably last as long again. The keyboard’s fantastic, and it’s a joy to use. There’s even a bell. In return for my efforts the machine gives me sheets of paper with words printed upon them. Words I can annotate, cross out, cut up and paste if necessary. It’s always necessary.

One of them needs electricity to work, and required huge amounts of power to smelt its pretty carcass, and extract the raw materials used in its components. The other needed some energy in its production, but has since enabled years of green creativity. One I’ll leave as an heirloom; the other will have no sentimental value. One is laden with distractions and promises, the other gives out only what you put in. Warts and all.

If you asked me to choose between them, I wouldn’t even have to think about it.

The journey…

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