Kristin RamseyKristin Ramsey is a writer, editor and digital wranger. She lives is Vancouver, Canada, and is currently Editorial Manager at Quietly.
I was wandering the streets of Vienna—the home of my boyfriend at the time—and his mother had given him 100 euros to purchase a Christmas present for me whenever I spotted something that caught my eye. We passed numerous kitschy gift stores and cute boutiques in the 8th district, but a vintage shop caught our attention because of the old books on display and the typewriters lining the floor. I stopped to peer in the window to admire them, and my boyfriend charged in to talk to the shop owner in German. With my broken understanding of the language, I heard the owner say “buy that one, it works”. Next thing I knew, I had a hefty addition to my luggage back home.
As a digital editor, there’s certain nostalgia around analogue writing technology for me. My dad wrote his entire Ph.D thesis on a typewriter, which seems pretty much unthinkable today. I had always wanted one, and my observant companion knew this well. It didn’t seem to faze him that I had to transport it back to Canada.
Working in digital publishing means speed is my modus operandi, and having grown up playing piano, my fingers fly over the keyboard and I type fast. I pull out the typewriter when I need to slow down and be thoughtful—each key takes effort to press and manual adjustments need to be precise. It’s an entirely new style and approach to writing for me, and I generally reserve it for drafting letters to friends. Admittedly, I recently had to Google how to change the ribbon for the first time…
What I like most about the typewriter are the keys with the German characters—the sharp S, the umlauts. It’s a language I’ve learned (albeit just the basics) and come to love.
I searched and searched for information about previous owners, but alas, couldn’t find it. It honestly hadn’t crossed my mind too much, though now that you ask, I like to imagine it belonged to a stodgy old Viennese man—one of the ones you see chain smoking and drinking melanges in one of the city’s historic cafes while reading the daily news and grumbling at passersby.
Sure I’ve dreamt about becoming a great novelist, but there’s something terrifying to me about a blank page. I’m much more comfortable being the editor behind the scenes—I think I’ll leave the next great novel to my younger brothers, who just wrote a roman à clef about being identical twins.
From a young age my dad instilled in me the importance of having good things that last forever. When we were kids, my brothers and I rolled our eyes at how many items he owned that were older than us—the waffle maker my mother gave him for his first father’s day, a juice maker from the seventies. But he definitely taught us something that we’re more aware of today as conscientious consumers.