I Want to be a Paperback Typewriter

24 Jan

We cleaned out the basement on a Saturday. Amidst platform shoes, an aquamarine Parisian leisure suit, and other relics from days of yore, I found my dad’s old typewriter. I dusted it off and started to write. I found the typewriter to be a very sensuous machine. The pages began to flow, forming a mountain of bleached white as magnificent as the Amazonian tree from whence it came. With each metallic click of the typebars, I was cheered on by the Howler monkeys that were displaced by the slash-and-burn logging that made my paper. I began to feel like a real writer. I saw myself as a knight of the Algonquin Round Table, spending my days hashing out pieces for literary magazines amidst a cloud of cigarette fumes and witty banter. That was the life for me.

With the typewriter came changes. I gave up the typical luxuries of a home  and instead headed for an artist’s house in the city. All great writers must live in an artist’s house to start. Instead of patronizing my usual haunts, such as school or work, I’d go away a while and while away the hours in a coffee house, explaining my latest project to all those with a willing ear, and many without.

“Would you like to order something, sir?” the waiter would say.
“No, thank you. I wouldn’t want to get food or drink on my typewriter, you see,” I’d reply.
“Well, you’ll have to leave, then. You can’t just sit here all day and write without ordering anything,” he’d press on.
“Some tap water then, please,” I’d give in. Baristas do not take kindly to disobedience, I’ve found.

In time, I grew a scraggly salt ‘n’ pepper beard for authenticity’s sake, with some cumin for spice and turmeric for color. The contents of my existing wardrobe were replaced with an unending supply of smoking jackets. I wore tortoise shell horn-rimmed glasses, as all great writers must do. I took my coffee black, and had a pipe with breakfast and scotch with lunch. I spent so much time thinking about what I was eventually going to write, that I became quite a couch potato (like a Yukon Gold but better for boiling). This was the life of a real writer.

However, with all my preparations, I’d forgotten to actually write anything. So, anxious to see if my changes made a difference, I took my typewriter to the park to begin (People are more likely to ask you about your work if you use a typewriter in public).  But when I began, something was weird. Despite my typewriter, smoking jacket, glasses, black coffee, smoke, and scotch, I couldn’t write a single good sentence. And in that instance, I learned the great lesson of the story: there is no item you can buy to make yourself a great writer. It was not the clothing or habits of literary masters that gave them their talent. What I truly lacked was inspiration. And seeing as you can’t buy yourself inspiration, I only had one option.

That day, I packed my bags and flew to Paris, following in the footsteps of Hemingway and Fitzgerald. You can’t gain writing material from possessions; it can only come from expensive trips to foreign locales.

to be continued…

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