Maybe I’m just nosey (and procrastinating), but I was fascinated by this article on Guardian Unlimited, which shows photographs of the rooms where a dozen or so authors write, with comments by the authors themselves:
Most of them make me feel that maybe my study isn’t too messy after all! Not that I write in the study - I write on the sofa with a laptop on my knee, which no doubt is a Very Bad Thing, ergonomically speaking, and certainly wouldn’t make for a good feature photograph in an article like this (even if I were illustrious enough to be included).
I wonder why so many of these authors like manual typewriters??? You can’t run Scrivener on one of those!
Actually quite a few of them have Macs, I’ve noticed. I read the column every Saturday in the guardian and long for my own writing room to avoid…
I too am surprised by the typewriters. I’m one of those who believe that writing is revision, but I think I’d believe it a lot less if every major re-write meant a re-type of 90,000 words.
Knowing how press photographers work, I wonder whether a certain amount of artistic re-arrangement has gone on, for the sake of some telling compositions. Perhaps the typewriters were all originally present, but not so prominently?
I also think there are messages in the messiness, having seen and heard some of the subjects in the flesh.
It is indeed fascinating. I have to say that I would hate to have my office as messy as some of those… but I suppose that a good writer is a good writer no matter the environment.
Some rearrangement has definitely gone on. In one of the articles, the writer expressed horror at the fact that the bin had been placed in front of the desk, but said that the photographer had said that this had been to represent the working process, or some such…
I guess I’m part of the generation who never used a typewriter. I started writing around the age of 12 - that was 1986, and it was on a C64, later on an Amiga 500, today … well, guess. I’ve never written a story on a typwriter or by hand.
My writer’s room is a well sorted chaos, by the way.
That site was mentioned on the Fountain Pen Network just a bit ago, too. Great fun! I love seeing other writers’ writing places.
When I read the short articles, the writers mostly sounded older (~60s), so that may explain the typewriters - just a generational thing.
Although a few did say that the computer was out of camera range, so it may have been a photographer-stylist thing like Keith mentioned.
I started begging for a typewriter when I was eight, finally got it when I was nine (kind of a pricey kid’s item, so they wanted to make sure it wasn’t a whim…) but while they did get me a real typewriter, not some Playskool thing, it was my aunt’s old manual. Which didn’t have the 1 and the ! key. I felt ripped off.
I saved all my odd job money to get a Smith Corona electric with Correc-Type, oh joy! But it was a funny thing, it was so noisy, both typing and just sitting there, that I wound up not liking it as much as I thought I would. Oh, in full out mode you didn’t notice, but if you were sitting there, waiting for the next word, it would hum at you… and you knew as soon as you shut it off the word would come.
I remember when word processing was a hot controversial topic in writing magazines. They would run articles like “Should you switch to a computer?” and several writers would claim that computers interfered with their creative process and THEY were never switching… these articles died down and went away completely in about a year.
Because, despite the expense of the fancy ones and the tinker-toy keyboards on the cheap ones, using a word processor, even a crude “stone knives & bearskins” variety, was so compellingly superior that it became something not even controversial any more.
Yes!! I know a lot of people who argued against writing on a computer… exactly until they tried it for the first time…
But in the beginning, there was the typewriter, for me, too. When I was 12, I “borrowed” the huge solid machine of my father - and he didn’t get it back for the rest of his life. He had to buy another, a smaller, more modern model, but I liked the old monster more. Especially the way it smelled - oily, steely, chemical…
Maybe that would be an idea for a new USB-add on: A smell gadget that provides the smell of old typewriters. (You’d have to buy expensive tablets to insert every two weeks or so… …maybe I should stop here, not giving a promising business plan away… ) And that makes that special noise every time you hit a key (there’s a wordprocessor for Windows, BTW, that does exactly that - making typewriter noise! It’s called “Atlantis”).
So the business plan shrinks down to the smell thing…
Naw, you do it as a bundle! Atlantis, and the smell thing… Value added.