Getting the words down | Electric Keyboards & Grand Pianos

Meet Jessica Fletcher

kim-typewriter1

Not the character Angela Lansbury played in Murder She Wrote…No this Jessica Fletcher is my newly purchased vintage typewriter. Yes, my typewriter has a name. If you can name your car, then I can name my typewriter. Jessica Fletcher is one of my all-time favourite fictional characters so what better name to use to christen my beautiful “new’ typing baby. As much as I am a technology-addict and have all the latest gadgets I am also a bit of a purist when it comes to the act of writing. I like a little of the old and the new. I have been looking for a vintage typewriter for about 5 years now and this month I found Jessica Fletcher. She is an Imperial Good Companion 5 Typewriter Circa 1957.

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Typewriters are works of art. Comparing them to our modern-day machines from MacBooks to iPad is like comparing a grand piano to an electric keyboard. Yes the electric keyboard is more portable but it is not a thing of beauty. Nothing beats a grand piano. For me a typewriter is a work of art. There is something that gets me excited about that clickety-clack of the keys or the smell of the ink or getting the ink stains on your fingers as you adjust or change the ink ribbon. The other day I read an article about an author who types out their first drafts on a typewriter for that sheer “inspirational digital-distraction-free ambience” and then transfers that to the computer for the editing stages. I LOVE that idea. It inspired me. Soon after reading this article, I found “Jessica Fletcher” online and I knew I had found my “machine of inspiration”.

Being the enlightened writing purist that I am ūüėČ I used Google to look up the history of “Jessica Fletcher” and her sister machines. I was delighted to unearth a few gems. The Good Companion Portable Typewriters were named after a best-selling novel “THE GOOD COMPANIONS” by English Novelist J.B. Priestly published in 1929. (Aside, a typewriter named after a best-selling novel – KISMET for this writer.)¬†¬†The first Good Companions were unveiled in 1932 with the Marketing Campaign of:¬†“The Good Companion brings fame to writers.” The typewriters went on to becoming the most popular typewriter in England when it got the Royal stamp of approval (Royal as in the The House of Windsor of Buckingham Palace.) when His Majesty King George V (Reigning Queen Elizabeth II’s grandfather.) purchased one for his own use.

From 1932 to 1963 the Imperial Good Companions went through 7 different designs and were called Good Companion 1 – 5. The Good Companion 5 – “Jessica Fletcher” was the last design and most modern version of these typewriters. Imperial then went on to manufacture three other typewriters after the Good Companions but the company ceased production and closed its doors in 1974.

“Jessica Fletcher”and her sister machines were very modern for the day. The innovative design contained these new additions to the Companion Portable Typewriters:

  • An aluminium body in a fibreglass case
  • A 4-colour choice ribbon
  • Touch-Control (where the writer/typist can choose the striking power of the keys to match individual finger strength)
  • Two colour Stencil Selector
  • Total Platen control for precision paper register
  • Automatic Ribbon Reverse
  • A Finger-friendly basket shift which means very little pressure is needed to operate the keys

I have tested all the keys and they all seem to be in perfect condition. I do need a new ribbon so will have to still¬†buy that. The keys feel much smoother than any typewriter I used to use at school. The keys also feel much more tactile. “Jessica Fletcher” has the very sexy, curvy style that the most gorgeous 1950s ladies had. (Think the stylish female cast of Mad Men.) The colour is gorgeous too: a metallic silvery blue-green. It is not an accident that I compared the vintage looks of “Jessica Fletcher” to a Grand Piano. When I lift the lid and take a closer look it reminds me of a harp or an opened Grand Piano. “Jessica Fletcher” has only had one owner and it is obvious that she took good care of her baby.

No matter what instrument I use to “Getting the Words down”; whether it be pencil, pen, fountain ink, typewriter, MacBook, iPod, there is something about a vintage typewriter that inspires me in some deeper place. Perhaps it is the sensual feel of the keys that are made for my fingers or the sound of those letters hitting the paper but there is a definite sensuality that typing on a vintage typewriter brings to the craft of writing. Maybe it is a longing for simpler times and slower times when you did not have a million immediate distractions and a clamouring to use up time at a rate of knots. Perhaps it is the storyteller facet of this writer that is drawn to working on a vintage typewriter or longhand writing with a fountain pen because storytellers are the history-keepers of the world. So perhaps it is up to us storytellers, us history-keepers to constantly bring Renaissance to our corners of the world. Perhaps it is up to us storytellers to teach the stories of the past to inspire the storytellers of the future. What I love about “The Good Companions” in particular is that they were among the first portable typewriters that were not only inspired by a novelist and his novel but were marketed and manufactured for the Writers not the Typists or the Secretaries. This is a machine that must be cherished but must be used. It was never manufactured to collect dust on a shelf in an attic. It was manufactured to help writers tell their stories to the world. That is what this writer is going to do. “Jessica Fletcher” is going to let me tell my stories ¬†with a romantic blush of the past and all the writers and their stories that have gone before me.

Jessica Fletcher, my literary Grand Piano, sits in pride of place next to MacGyver, my literary electric keyboard, my Macbook. Sitting, pride of place, in the centre of my beautiful antique roll top desk Jessica Fletcher has found her home.

”¬†The Good Companion brings fame to writers.” – Kismet with perhaps a hint of destiny for this writer…

but

“This Good Companion brings joy & inspiration to this writer.”

There is a place for The Typewriter in the 21st Century.

Would you/Have you found a place for a Typewriter in your world?

If you have not ever used a typewriter, what are your thoughts on typewriters?

Which favourite vintage model typewriter do you lust after?

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Detox with The Mad Hatter

John Tenniel- Alice's mad tea party, colour
Image via Wikipedia

Do you ever feel that there is too much demanding your attention? Do you ever wish you could pause and rewind? Do you ever wish you could mute the world? Sometimes your brain can go into overdrive from being over stimulated. This last week felt like that for me. I wanted to power off the time switch and freeze time for just a moment to be able to catch my breath. I had a migraine for over a week that would not disappear and left me in pain and feeling grumpy and frustrated. The migraine was my fault and the fault of modern technology.

You see I was simply doing too much and my mind was overheating which caused the migraine attack. So left with no other choice, I decided to take a day and night off from everything and everyone. I turned off the Macbook which meant that I killed a few birds with one close of my Macbook: Facebook, Twitter, WIP, Blog. I switched off my mobile phone. I did not have music or television playing in the background. Then I holed up with my long overdue books needing to be read. I read in the quiet. Wouldn’t you know? My week-long migraine attack is gone.

Yes I must admit there was a small part of me that felt guilty, ok a large part, and I kept on catching my closed Macbook in my eye line. I could hear the chatter on Facebook and Twitter calling, then there was this blog aching to be updated with a new post. Not to mention my WIP was aching to be molly-coddled. But I resisted. This was the best mental detox for me.

In this world of technology it has become very difficult to just switch off to rest and relax. I am as guilty of this as the next person. I am also a person who tends to pile on things on my plate that just simply have to be done.

I have a little troll on my bedside table. It has a scrunched up face and bright pink punk hair. But the reason I have such a creature on my bedside table is that he is holding up a bright pink sign that says “Nobody is Perfect.”. I need to have that within close viewing distance to remind myself to go easy on myself.

Today I realised that though I am always thinking there is never enough time in a day to get things done let along compartmentalise all my me’s, work me, writer me, daughter me, sister me, friend me, critique partner me; the problem and the fault is my own. I am not the Energiser Bunny as much as I wish I were. Instead lately I have been feeling like the White Rabbit with the clock running around in Alice in Wonderland crying, “It’s late. It’s late. I’m late. I’m late.”.

So today I decided to be like The Mad Hatter, The March Hare and the dormouse and just take a chill pill, let the madness of the world continue around me without me in it for a while. The world did not stop turning, the white rabbit is still running around but for a moment I actually enjoyed a day that did not pass me by in a blur. Best of all I feel refreshed and do not have an aching head.

So your Monday Muscle is to set aside 1 whole day this week for a mental and technological detox. Sit at the table with the Mad Hatter and laugh at his silly nonsensical jokes. Ignore the late white rabbit. Do not turn on the computer. Do not turn on the TV. Do not turn on the stereo system / iPod. Turn off your mobile. Unhook the landline phone. Make an appointment with yourself. Sit outside. Take a walk. Read a book. You have a whole day to do nothing. Believe me you may be looking at this blog post now in abject horror, thinking does this silly girl not know how much I still have to do. I do know but I am saying that it will all still be there tomorrow. Give yourself one day off. Just like the body needs a detox, it is even more vital that your mind needs a detox. Healthy and Rested Mind = Healthy and Refreshed Body.

Now enjoy doing nothing and you can thank me afterwards.

– Kim

© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.

Smiles & Shout-Outs to my Cyberspace Sisterhood

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Well my day was a dreary one indeed. I will not bore you nor depress you with the details but suffice to say that this was a day I could have done without. On coming home my head ached and my annoyance levels were seething in me. I was not feeling creative other than imagining scenes of destruction on my unsuspecting villains of my day.

I came home and powered up my MacBook. I started scrolling through my inbox until I came across a few comments on yesterday’s post that I needed to approve. It was not long before my deadly frown and grimace of the day turned into a smoothed brow and a wide smile.

A kind word is like a Spring Day. – Russian Proverb

I started this blog as a way to build an online presence and to network with other writers. I started blogging about a few things that I would be working on and found that many writers were in the same boat as me. But this blog has done so much more for me than just build an online presence. This blog has introduced me to a network of writers that have become my good friends….and this week I have needed the encouragement from my writing pals.

So this is a Shout-out to some amazing gals and guys I have gotten to know. I cannot attempt to name every single one of you as this post would then go on for pages. But I would like to the opportunity to give a few shout-outs and send out my grateful smiles to the following lovely people.

 

Melissa Pearl

Rachna Chhabria

Roz Morris

Dee White

Lia Keyes

Sheryl Gwyther

Leigh K Hunt

Engrid Epel

Denise Maclennan Bruce

Judith van Praag

The Running Garlic

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I hereby award each of you lovely friends and followers, motivators and encouragers, pick-me-uppers and fix-me-uppers, frowns-into-smiles the double awards of The Sisterhood Award

The Sisterhood Award

and

The Sunshine Award

The Sunshine Award

Thank you to every single one of you Amazing ladies who I have mentioned here. Allow me to take this moment to Shout Out to you. Paste and copy these twin awards onto your website. These are not meant to be paid forward, they are simply to show my appreciation for your constant support, encouragement, motivation and above all your friendship. Keep them and display them proudly. I am proud and honoured to count you as my friends and part of my sisterhood.

I bow in gratitude, admiration and friendship to each of you.

Thank you. I hope I can be as good a support for each of you as you have been for me this last year.

Yours in Sisterhood & Sunshine

Kim @ Dragonflyscrolls

Sisters are doing it for themselves

© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning