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These are my typewriters: Daisy and Helen. They are not what I expected. They may turn out to be something different than what they are now, but this is what they have become and what they insist on being.

This is their story.

She loves poetry and men

This is Daisy. No matter what I tel her, she likes poetry. She likes quirky, and is intersted in Eliza, though I let her die off and disappear in stories long ago. She demands to be different, but is comfortable where she is. The “a” doesn’t want to tpye, and dings! in protest at every stroke.

She wants me to go back to styles I’ve forgotten and abandoned. She wants me to try something new. She is happy but not confused. She doesn’t believe in happy endings, but if they happen–why not celebrate them with fireworks?

She wants the truth

Her name is Helen, though sometimes she goes by Helga. She is sweet but sure in what she wants: truth. She wants a story I’m not sure I’m ready to tell, though she’s trying to be patient by waiting.

Her keys are smooth and sure, knowing where the letters will land before I do.

She wants the story I’ve been waiting to tell but unsure whether it’s worth telling.

She wrote my grandmother’s story, and sometimes she is Helga, German and forceful and demanding that the next word be written. Next, she is Helen, patient and waiting, always, for those same words to burst through.

I’d like to say she’s faithful, but I don’t believe she’ll wait forever. But she’s where my fingers ache to explore, not even knowing what they want to do.


A lot of people have preferred ways to write. Pen and paper. Typewriter. Computer. Bathroom stalls, pencil marks on the wall, sharpie marks going in circles. For some people it doesn’t matter.

See, while I am a fan of anyone writing however makes them comfortable, I’m amazed at the people who don’t have a preference. For me, the way I write determines what I write. And there are certain pens my fingers drop and certain types of paper that scratches so much that my spine starts slithering out until I have to stand up, get away from the horrible sound.

I have favorite pens. I have all sorts of journals, a few mostly filled, most barely filled. But there are lots of them. There are writings in the margins of old school notes, my main journal covered in colored ink written out in spirals. Then I have file upon file of computer text. A few pieces of typewritten pages (these are new). And each one means something different to me.

I cannot write poetry on a computer. That isn’t to say I can’t (though I know that’s what I just said), just that it feels unnatural and, I think, produces worse poetry than I’m already inclined to produce. For me, poetry needs to be handwritten, on crisp clean blank pages with lines. Then I can cross out words and rearrange text, and make it messy, but mine.

I’ve found my new typewriter (Daisy, she is a deep red Royal from the ’60s with spunk and a hippie attitude) is also a fan of poetry. I’ve written some more bad poems on there, but the text looks so nice typed out. There are still forward slashes over my mistakes and words typed over words, but it feels right. It feels like poetry.

Fiction, for me, has often been a computer activity. Possibly because if I type it out, my fingers will go so fast that I won’t have time to read it before I start the next thought. I’ll write it faster than I can edit it. It’s not always true, but it helps. Also, I found that since I’ve left high school, my hand aches when I write for too long (this thought saddens me in many ways). I will take notes for fiction by hand, as I think they belong on scrawled out pages and sometimes in sharpie diagrams and on neon notecards, but I feel disconnected when I can’t type the words up on a computer.

My typewriters I am still learning about. You will meet them next time, Daisy and Helga (my grandmother’s typewriter). I am still learning what they like, though I already have a feel for what that will turn out to be. A little bit of everything, maybe, because to me they are the bridge between the handwritten word and the computer.

Of course, I always have a journal or two (or three?) with me when I go places, and often a bundle of pens–not just one or two, but often 5 or 10. I like color, so I have much of that, and I like different styles for different paper, so there are options. It may be ridiculous, it may make my boyfriend shake his head, but at least I’ll have something to write with any time that desire strikes.

If it lets you write, do it. It doesn’t matter if anyone else thinks you should type it or write it out, or even talk it into your cellphone to transcribe later. It doesn’t matter if it helps you get the words out.

What method is best for you? Does it depend on what you’re writing?

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