Websites & Typewriters.

WD May-June

The May-June 2020 issue of Writer’s Digest magazine was surely put together before the pandemic swept over us and the subsequent sheltering-in commenced. But this issue’s main feature, WD’s 22nd annual “101 Best Websites For Writers” by managing editor Cassandra Lipp proved well-timed for readers/writers stuck at home. I’ve already flagged a few that look interesting (just what I need…more sites and blogs to follow).

I’m pretty sure some of the site info is already obsolete (one at least is on hiatus or gone altogether as far as I know) but there are some intriguing sites in this year’s list, including some you may be well aware of but which were entirely new to me, like ‘Cliché Finder’ at www.westegg.com/cliché or TV Tropes at www.tvtropes.org. As time allows, I’ll be visiting a bunch, but cautious with the follows, a plan to prune an already too long list of blogs and sites funneling stuff into my inboxes one of the many sheltering-in to-do list chores I’ve yet to tackle.

But for readers who aren’t looking for more ways to squander time online, there’s Alexandra Claus’ 5-Minute Memoir: “Typewritten Wonder” about the old baby blue Smith-Corona typewriter in a tan case spotted at a local Goodwill store when she was only 11. Begging her mother to spring for the ten-dollar price tag got Claus’ nowhere at the time, unaware that of course Mom returned to the store later, bought the treasure and had it refurbished just in time to be the best Christmas present ever.

jak kaiser

Add something from WD’s 22nd batch of recommended writers’ websites to your favorites bar, or nod knowingly along with Alexandra Claus when she writes, “My typewriter made my childhood dreams of being a writer feel real. Its well-worn keys stoked the creativity in my soul.” Kinda makes me want to shove this laptop aside and hunt up a typewriter.

Well…just kind of.

Photo: Jak Kaiser

 

Tools Of The Trade

Freja Beha Erichsen by Paolo Roversi

Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles, Jack London, Ray Bradbury, John Lennon and even Helen Keller’s braille machine – those are just a few of the authors’ typewriters on exhibit in “Tools Of Trade” at the American Writers Museum, running through June 2020. Who knew there was a collector’s market for antique typewriters? Actor Tom Hanks has over 250 of them, and claims to type every day. There are a surprising number of writers who prefer to work on typewriters, indestructible manuals in particular. I completely understand, there being a magical musical rhythm to the sound of those keys clacking away, and for someone working in retro era crime fiction like myself, it’d be a perfect fit. But, being one of those for whom ‘writing-is-rewriting’, I’ll have to stick with switching back and forth between my desktop and my laptop, Apple gear, MSWord software, hyper-speed two-fingered tap dancing across the keys.

1958 rudy garcia cover

We have a typewriter at the day job. No weighty metal Royal, it’s just one of those grey plastic blobs from a big box office supply store. Still, it amuses me to see new hires with the ink still wet on their design diplomas ogle the thing like it’s an alien artifact. The intricacies of Adobe Illustrator and InDesign don’t intimidate them. Typing a 3×5 mailing label or No. 10 envelope on a typewriter does. Go figure.

American Writers Musuem

The American Writers Museum (link below) is just up the street from Millennium Park and The Chicago Cultural Center, which used to be the main Chicago Public Library. Crime film fans have seen that building in Brian DePalma’s 1987 The Untouchables, standing in for a courthouse and a convenient rooftop for Kevin Costner’s Eliot Ness to toss Billy Drago’s Frank Nitti off the roof. Well, no one said that film cared much about historical accuracy.

https://americanwritersmuseum.org/

Photos: Freja Beha Erichsen by Paolo Roversi, Perry Mason 1958 paperback with a Rudy Garcia cover, America Writers Museum photos from the AWM site.

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