Wit and wisdom for wordsmiths

Tom Hanks the WRITER likes to TYPE!

Everybody knows Jay Leno collects antique cars. But other celebs have passions that are a little more, shall we say, eccentric.

Johnny Depp collects dolls — including one of Lindsay Lohan wearing an electronic ankle bracelet.  As if that weren’t weird enough, he also collects pigeon skeletons.

Nicholas Cage collects human shrunken heads, dinosaur skulls, rare comics, a pet octopus and venomous king cobras. Among other things.

But Tom Hanks collects vintage typewriters. About 100 of them so far.

Somehow, there’s something normal and comforting about that.  Especially for anybody who started out writing on a Smith Corona or an Underwood.

Hanks says the major reason he loves old typewriters is for the sound they make.  Not the wussy whisper of a laptop in Starbucks but a good solid THUNK THUNK THUNK!

Let him explain:

“You can choose the typewriter to match your sound signature.

“Remingtons from the 1930s go THICK THICK. Mid-century Royals sound like a voice repeating the word CHALK. CHALK. CHALK CHALK. Even the typewriters made for the dawning jet age (small enough to fit on the fold-down trays of the first 707s), like the Smith Corona Skyriter and the design masterpieces by Olivetti, go FITT FITT FITT like bullets from James Bond’s silenced Walther PPK.

“Composing on a Groma, exported to the West from a Communist country that no longer exists, is the sound of work, hard work. Close your eyes as you touch-type and you are a blacksmith shaping sentences hot out of the forge of your mind.”

“Sentences hot out of the forge of your mind.”  What a terrific image. Who knew Tom Hanks could write so well? Or that he cares what he writes on?

Okay, but what about deleting mistakes? Type over them, says Hanks. “What you sacrifice in accuracy [with a typewriter] will be made up in panache.”

I bring all this up because in addition to my freelance work I’ve started writing fiction, which I’ve never done before. The hardest part? Letting ‘er rip. Stopping myself from editing as I go. Writing on a laptop makes it too easy to fix mistakes first time through, which inhibits flow, which is the juice of creativity.

Unfortunately, I got rid of my last typewriter a long time ago. So now, some of the time I write longhand on a yellow legal pad.

Maybe I should get in touch with Tom Hanks; I’ll bet he has an extra Smith Corona tucked away somewhere.

What do you write on? Ever use a typewriter made before the self-correcting IBM Selectric 3? Do you miss it? Comment above!


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