I’ve just been lying awake in bed, thinking about what to use to write my next novel, Cheating, Death. (Have you seen the cover I designed & painted for it?) To most people this is sortof a decision between word processors. Should I use MS Word, Open Office, Pages, or something exciting and hip like WriteRoom or Scrivener? (Or asking around to find something half as hip as Scrivener for Windows, if that’s what you’re using instead of just getting a Mac already.) ((Incidentally, stopping to fill in all those links really interrupts the flow of writing this.)) I hadn’t given it much thought, though when someone asked the other day I admitted that I tend either to write directly into InDesign (ie: doing all the publisher-type layout and formatting stuff as I write the first draft, since I’m going to have to get it in there for publishing anyway) or write the first draft on a manual typewriter (though I’ve heard good things about Scrivener, and keep meaning to dl the trial right before I start a new novel).
Anyway, so as I said, I was lying awake in bed a bit ago, thinking about maybe setting up to live stream writing Cheating, Death via USTREAM or some such, thinking about how I’d set up the camera or cameras, maybe see if I could use BoinxTV to do a split-screen with one video of my face and another of my typewriter, how to do lighting, angles, and be able to reach both the typewriter & the computer keyboard to interact with anyone watching and … and for a second it occurred to me that people watching might prefer/expect me to be writing in software and streaming the computer screen itself … but that passed, and I got to thinking about how I’d have to set up another table in front of my computer desk and wondering whether it would take the force of my energetic keystrokes on a manual typewriter… Which actually led me to thinking about the idea that … I’m not sure the Olivetti is the right machine for writing this novel.
I mean sure, I used my Olivetti TROPICAL (looks like this one) to write the entirety of Forget What You Can’t Remember (among other things), it’s a good machine. Reliable. Comfortable. I’m used to it. It’s also the lightest and most portable of my working typewriters. But I don’t think it’s the right machine for Cheating, Death. This is a zombie novel. Grittier, dirtier, more painful than FWYCR. Still not a thriller, no, but the Olivetti is clearly for lighter fare. So what else could I use? Certainly not my Olympia! (She’s a great typewriter, never had a mechanical problem with her, but every word that comes out of her is in script. Cursive! Far too feminine for this book.) Perhaps the Underwood I wrote Dragons’ Truth on, or one of my Smith Coronas or Remingtons. A friend gave me a President that needs a little work; maybe I could get it in working order… but even though it’s masculine, it has an even smaller profile than my Olivetti. The President is for more lightweight work. Maybe I’ll try it for some short stories. It feels like it would be good at terse writing.
Just writing this post is making me want to go out to the storage room where most of them are sitting, waiting, on shelves, for the chance to be used. Not all of them are fully functional. A few of them need totally new ribbons, a couple of them I’ve never written more than a sentence with; I’m not even sure they’d survive a novel without serious repair. I think my favorite Underwood is about to need a repair I’m not qualified to give it, and I don’t have any money to hire a pro right now. (Have you considered buying a subscription to me?) I believe (though I recall offering to give one away in the last couple of years, so it may be one less) I currently have nine manual typewriters in my collection. Each one has a different feel to it, a different character. I don’t think the Olivetti is the right machine for this novel. Maybe none of them are; maybe I should write it on my iBook. I’ll definitely be doing my NaNoWriMo novel on it – I bought that iBook for NaNoWriMo, received it November 1st, 2004, and have been using it ever since… right up until I bought the iMac I’m writing this post on. I bought that iBook for writing. Perhaps it’s still the right tool for the job. Certainly lighter and more portable than even the President. Perhaps I’ll load it up with Scrivener and take it to town and see what comes out. But I’m definitely going to get out all my typewriters this weekend & consider the matter thoroughly.
What about you? What do you write with? What would you use to write a zombie novel, to write Cheating, Death?
Update: I’ve just uploaded photos of all my typewriters to this flickr set. I’m thinking about doing a post (or eight) detailing them, as well.