East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai



So this is the day – in a few hours, as the thermometer reached 94°F, I’ll sit in front of a local bookstore with my mother’s typewriter and spend four hours (more or less) writing a story, based on prompts randomly picked from a bowl, where readers have put them.
I will not be alone, because Fabrizio Borgio will be with me. We even made the local news.


What were we thinking when we proposed this?
Four hours for a story?
Using mechanical typewriters?
On the hottest afternoon of the year?

But we’ll make it.
And that’s part of the reason behind this adventure.
There’s the fun, yes, and the publicity (will I sell more ebooks? Will people raid the shelves of the bookstore?), but most of all it will be a way to show that writing is hard physical work.
Not some kind of hobby for limp-wristed posers, but a job.
You sit down at the keyboard, you think about the story, you write the story.

s-l300The typewriter thing worries me a bit.
No backspace, no Copy/Paste.
The pages will be hung publicly for all the passers-by to read – so the first take needs to be good.
It’s about thirty years since I last used a mechanical typewriter. I did a short warm-up yesterday – the keys are too heavy, and they are in the wrong place (QZERTY not QWERTY), and the keyboard is too small. The result of my warm-up would have made my mother cry: letters of different colors due to different strength when typing, uncertainties and delays of the “where the heck is Z?!” sort, the hammers gettings stuck together.
A disaster.
Worrying, as I said.
Just like when I started, forty years ago.
But they say it’s like going on a bicycle – it gets back to you fast enough.

I don’t think I’ll be able to do more than ten pages in four hours – 3000 words, more or less.
But I’ll take mental notes, I hope someone will take photographs, and tomorrow I’ll let you know how it went.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

3 thoughts on “Typewriter

  1. Hang in there, you can do it!


  2. Sounds like great fun to me. I well remember my old manual Underwood — and all the x’ed out miskeys 🙂


    • Our “performance” turned out to be a litany of curses accompanied by the clicking of the machines. The facts that W and Z were in the wrong places, just as ‘ and ) caused a lot of trouble.
      Lots of XXXXXXX 😛
      Really, the hard part was not improvising a story, it was actually managing to write it without too many mistakes.

      Liked by 1 person

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