In November 2018, I learned through Robert Polt (author of The Typewriter Revolution) that an anthology of typewritten works was being contemplated for publication. First, he and the editorial panel sent out the feelers to see if there was anyone interested in contributing to it. This wasn’t going to be a random collection of typewritten stories, essays, and poems. Instead, it would have a central organizing theme. The title of the anthology is Cold Hard Type. From the call for submissions….
Imagine that digital civilization collapses, and that some people adopt typewriters as their
tools of choice. What will their adventures be? These are the tales of their struggles, defeats, and
triumphs as they try to bring back typewriters from the grave of “obsolete” technology and
restore them to their rightful place in the sun. All contributions to COLD HARD TYPE will be
set in the future and will involve typewriters as an essential part of their content. The final
versions of the texts will also actually be typed on typewriters.
The basic premise allows for many possibilities: there are different scenarios for the
partial or complete breakdown of digital technology and culture, various reasons for the collapse
in different parts of the world, different stages of the process, and many possible results. Stories
can be set early in the process or centuries later. They may be funny, dark, violent, light, ironic,
or profound. They can be suitable for an adult audience, but should not be out-and-out
pornographic or sadistic. They can range from short-shorts (1 page) to around 20 pages.
Genre-writing is not my forte, however I conceived a story around two central characters – clandestine lovers – faced with the sudden obstacle of consummating their affair without the convenience of cell phones and the internet. After a couple drafts and working through the details, I cobbled together the short-story I submitted, titled Immunity. I was thrilled to learn that it was accepted on January 22, 2019.
Next was the hard part – typing it out. It has been a long time since I’ve had to type something requiring such precision. No spell correction. No simple backspace and retype. After typing the first page partially through four times (pulling it from the machine after stupid mistakes), I realized what a task I set for myself. Not only to type the story, but to do so using three different typewriters, which is what the story called for. I had to set the margins to meet the needs of the publication, for each machine. Then, there were the pages where a section on one typewriter ended and a new section on one of the other typewriters began. The challenge of lining them up and not making an error in the second part, so I didn’t have to go back and type the first part on the first typewriter again, didn’t make my life easy.
I recorded a little video to show the process.
Sixteen pages and many hours later, I’ve got a typed manuscript, ready to mail. A couple typos slipped in, I’m sure.
Back in the day, this is how writers would submit manuscripts, and lawyers would write and file motions and briefs to the court. Technology has made such tasks easier, but to our benefit? Once the typebar is sent to the page, there’s no returning it. And correction tape may correct an error, but doesn’t make clean copy. Time and patience was required, something our short attentions would have struggled with.
From what I understand, there was such a popular response and collection of material submitted that there will be two different volumes of the Cold Hard Type anthology. When I get word on the books’ availability, I’ll let you know which of the two anthologies my story will be in. I’m sure both volumes will have very interesting and exciting material to read.