By Susan Reichert, Editor-in-Chief for Southern Writers Magazine
If you write your stories using your computer then you will appreciate not having to use a typewriter. As a young girl, my grandfather had a manual typewriter in his office and I can remember him putting the paper in, turning a knob until the edge of the paper would show just enough that a bar would come over the paper and hold it down. Then he would hit each key to make words. When he let me, I would try to hit the keys but being a little girl, it took a lot of effort to hit the key hard enough to make a letter.
Though through the years the manual typewriter gave way to the invention of a motorized typewriter, and it became easier to hit the keys. I for one am glad they finally invented the computer key board we use for our writing today.
Did you know one of the early users of the typewriter was Mark Twain? I believe it said he started writing on a machine in 1876. I can’t imagine what that must have been like when comparing it to the manual my grandfather had in the late 40’s. You can go to http://mentalfloss.com/article/80104/19-authors-and-their-typewriterspub and read the letter he wrote to his publisher. He claimed he wrote his manuscript for Tom Sawyer on a typewriter.
Some historians think that his book Life on the Mississippi, published in 1882, was the first manuscript submitted to a publisher in typed form. Let’s face it, he is the only one who really knows.
There were other writers who came along who wrote their stories on a typewriter such as: L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; Ernest Hemingway, author of A Farewell To Arms; Orson Welles, author of Citizen Kane to name a few. If you recall, these books contain many pages–can you imagine the length of the manuscripts?
For writers today, we have our computers to use. These keys are so much smoother and easier than the old typewriters these authors used. I thought it only fitting to bring this up to remind us all that we are very fortunate in having an apparatus to use for our writing that is so easy compared to the machines these authors had to use. Can you imagine the manuscripts they might have written if they had had the computer plus google?
I think sometimes we forget how good we have it. So, the next time you sit down at your computer to write, give it a little pat, say a thank goodness, and begin your manuscript.