I write my novels on a computer. I scribble ideas in notebooks and on Post Its and on the backs of phone bills and, once, on a roll of cash register paper I begged from a bartender in a snowy Colorado restaurant. Then I sit down and type CHAPTER 1 on a Mac laptop.
But there’s nothing like a manual typewriter.
When I was a kid, and dreaming of being a writer, I wrote stories on wide-ruled binder paper and illustrated them with crayon drawings. Occasionally, I got the chance to use my dad’s typewriter, or my grandmother’s. Rolling a sheet of onion skin paper into it, and hitting the keys, seeing my words appear on the page, felt grown up. It felt magical. This was what real writers did. I can still hear the clop of the keys against the paper, and smell the ink, and see my fingers smeared black because I typed too fast and then had to free all the keys that had tangled near the roller. This was what real writers did. And if I was doing it, maybe that meant that someday I could be a real writer.
Christmas morning, I opened the gift my family got for me. I gasped. It’s a Corona travel typewriter. Judging by the serial number, it was built in 1935. The Husband found it in a little shop in rural Texas on a Saturday when I was teaching a writing workshop in the town library. He hid it in the car, and brought it home, cleaned it up, found new ribbons for it, and snuck it under the Christmas tree. He told me I was going to love my present. The kids said I was going to love it. I do. It’s awesome. I could not have asked for anything better.
It’s my dream come true.