Sotto Voce.

"Qui plume a, guerre a." — Voltaire

A Little Field Trip for my S&C Standard

SV’s LC Smith & Corona StandardTomorrow I’ll be staffing the Maryland Writers’ Association table at the Baltimore Writers Conference. And I just found out that Gary Lester, my old cohort from my days at Channel 37 will be able to make it too. That will be nice. We used to staff the MWA table at various conferences around the state, so it will be like old times. In fact, the idea for Channel 37 hatched during a discussion Gary and I had while staffing a table at BWC a few years ago. Who knows what crazy get-rich-quick schemes we’ll cook up this time.

Anyway, one of the traditions wherever MWA has a booth or a tent is to host a “Story in the Round,” essentially a written Exquisite Corpse story. This is usually done by setting up a flipchart on an easel, and writing the opening sentence to a story. (One reason I’m particularly glad Gary will be there is because he writes absolutely killer opening lines.) Then we encourage people to add a sentence to the story to keep it going — or to send it off into bizarre new directions, just to see what the next person can do with it.

Well, this time I’ve decided to bring along my trusty L.C. Smith & Corona Standard and let people type their sentences. Then I’ll scan the results and post them on the MWA’s blog as MWA’s first official typecast.

Hopefully, a classic manual typewriter will be a conversation starter when plunked down amid a gaggle of 100+ writers. Plus, it looks the part, it’s rugged, and it has probably the most classically “typewriter-y” sound of the machines in my small collection. Plus, it’s a pretty quiet machine too, so it won’t disturb people. Not that the sound of a typewriter has ever been known to disturb writers.

I’m excited! This is the first time I’ve taken one of my machines on walkies. I hope people will enjoy it. And when I post the typecast, I’ll link to it here. The stories usually go off in wonderfully inventive directions; I’m intrigued to see how a typewriter will influence their storytelling decisions.

A question for fellow typospherians who have brought their machines along to events to share with people: what were your experiences? Anything I should be forewarned about?

Categorised as: Life the Universe and Everything | Typecasting

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  1. Richard P says:

    Excellent idea!

    I predict that some people will fail to hit the keys hard enough, will make a mess, or may not even be sure how to return the carriage. But that’s all part of the fun. What’s a mystery writer without a typewriter?

  2. sottovoce says:

    Thanks, Richard! I’ll definitely encourage people to be unafraid of hitting those keys!

  3. T. Munk says:

    Great idea!

    Having provided typewriters to public events a few times, I’d say the choice of Corona is good. Just avoid taking machines that have unintuitive settings, magic margins or carriage locks. Those seem to frustrate the average non-typewriter user, and mar the experience for them. Be prepared to patiently assist. (:

  4. sottovoce says:

    Dear Rev. Munk, thanks for the excellent advice! I agree wholeheartedly. And I’ll definitely be ready to assist as needed. The goal is for people to have fun with it! As we typospherians know, playing and making mistakes are to be encouraged; it’s how discovery and learning happen.

    Loved your post on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I’ve added you to my blogroll; should have done it long ago!