My Little Brother Typewriter and Andrea Goldsmith’s Not Nostalgia

January 19, 2016 at 11:30 pm | Posted in Andrea Goldsmith, Books, Writing, Writing - tools of the trade | 1 Comment

I’ve reblogged this Andrea Goldsmith post (NOT NOSTALGIA) because it struck such a chord with me, I was smiling while reading it, and I didn’t write my own this week! As an undergraduate (English Hons.) at the Australian National University – 1982-1985 – I owned a Brother typewriter to write my essays. I called it my Little Brother (and thought of my little brother Patrick every time I used it, which added to my affection for it).

In those days I couldn’t touch type. In a nice reversal of the sexism of the times, my boyfriend David, who – unusually – could touch type, typed my Hons thesis – ha! Even though I’d been in the workforce for ten years before I went to university, I deliberately did not learn to type because in those days that was what girls who didn’t go to university or into nursing were always advised to do. I so did not want to be a secretary that I thought I’d make it impossible.
So I had all sorts of other jobs (e.g., in art galleries, as a deckhand on a yacht) and also became, briefly, a librarian, studying at Tech at night, in the pre-computer days when it was an interesting course and cataloguers had to examine books and describe them and assign a classification number to each one, instead of just hooking into the Library of Congress for a number. In the old days a cataloguer could really expand her general knowledge and get paid for it – I liked it.
A huge advantage of my not learning to type until after the invention of computers – word processors we called them at first – was that the computer made learning how to touch type very easy and quick. Learning to type on the old typewriters took ages and looked to me very tedious and laborious. While at work, where I was writing about youth unemployment for a Non-Govt. Association I was allowed to do the ‘Type-Quick’ course (annoyingly ungrammatical – of course, type is a verb and should be qualified by an adverb, ‘quickly’ and not the adjective ‘quick’). It only took one hour a day for ten days, I think, or two weeks.
I’m always staggered by the number of academics who can’t touch type. It would make their lives so much easier. It’s quicker and so much more ergonomically sound – better for posture and even eyesight because if you touch type you can be typing and looking out the window at the plum trees or birds while you think. It’s good for your eyes to look into distance regularly.
And while I felt a stab of nostalgia when Andrea Goldsmith mentioned her Olivetti and then the same typewriter I used to have – my Little Brother – I’m grateful for technological advances like computers that have made courses like ‘Type-Quick’ easy to master this tool of the trade for us writers.

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  1. And I smiled as I read your account. Thank you.


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