So...back, for a moment, to the meandering writing-about-writing essay posts instead of yet another UJTU.
For no logical reason and no personal historical reason I can think of, writing for me is a hobby which I mention in a whisper, blushing, turning away. I announce proudly that I play music, however badly; I'll happily talk about my limited crocheting skills with anyone who is interested; I blather on contentedly about my pets, the books I've read, my dabbling with calligraphy, my bike--anything and everything else. But I mention my writing habit only in passing; guiltily and slightly defiantly as if confessing to compulsive gambling or a drinking problem, daring someone to help me mend my ways.
I think it's partly for this reason that the more obvious tools of the trade--machines that can be used for nothing else--are something I have a very hard time revealing in public. I've taken my Neo with me to the coffee house dozens of times, gotten it out a handful of times, written maybe a few hundred words at best. Oh, when I took it to write-ins in Colorado, I used it a lot, when I knew I was in the company of other addicts who would overlook my flaws, but in general...I feel all eyes on me, and I want to drop through the floor. Pen and paper are a refuge in public, because I could be doing anything: homework, a journal (which seems less wrong, somehow, than "real" writing), business work. But typewriters and Alphasmarts are the tools of the author: blatant, in your face, pure writing machines. Couple that with the idea of the unmistakable look-at-me sound of a busy typewriter, and I'm terrified.
I suppose I feel like an impostor, a pretender, a poseur. And then, I tell myself, "real" writers don't need to take refuge in tools, in the romance of obsolete tools and beautiful gadgets. Real writers simply write.
Which brings me to the second portion of this mind-wandering: despite all of what I've said above, I like writing tools, particularly those that do nothing else. I get obsessed with pens and typewriters. I love the physicality of writing in analog, the smell of a typewriter and the feel of pressing the keys, the sound of them, the bell at the end of a line; I like the look of fountain pen ink drying on a page, feel of a smooth nib on good paper; I love the crinkle of pages, the heft of them. I feel like I write better with these things, write differently than I do with the current, typical tools. But is that real? Or is that a trick of the mind--do I like tinkering with them, and therefore convince myself that they work better for me so I have an excuse to use them instead of more efficient and common means? And if so, does it really matter? If it works for me, if I enjoy it, why should I care how I make the journey or what others think? But I remain afraid that I'll be seen as a snob: as pursuing a romantic notion of what it means to write, to the detriment of actually writing.
And above all, *am* I that snob? I wonder sometimes. If I completely let go of the tools and just used word processors like everyone else, would my writing really suffer? In comparing work done on the computer with work I've started on paper--one way or another--I'm not sure. I think I do better with clear drafts, but how much of that is a mental block?
Aaaand, on a somewhat lighter note, despite all of the above, I admit to spending some time over the last few days cruising eBay and what-have-you for smallish, quietish typers with the idea of, at the least, doing some outdoor typing come spring. I'm down to four portables and could drop that further, and the smallest typewriter I have with a reliable case is the heavier of the SM-9s. Not exactly easy to drag around. I've kind of been looking at Lettera 32s, despite my apathetic comments in the past re: their appearance. Too bad there don't seem to be that many of them around at a decent price...and I *never* see them locally.