When I was a kid, my parents brought home a word processor for our Apple //e computer called Bank Street Writer. The cover (see right) featured a proud mom and dad watching their little Virginia Woolf pump out pages and pages of fiction on the dot-matrix printer.

That image did something to me. I wanted to be that girl so bad. Not because I sought the approval of mom and dad (I mean, I did, but they always gave it automatically), but because I loved the idea of such sheer output. Her fingers were producing work in the form of paper. What alchemy is this!?

Ever since, I’ve been fascinated with the imagery of writers at work. I have a photo of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ typewriter over my desk — not because she’s my favorite writer in the world, but because it’s a pretty picture (flowers in a vase, lovely crystal paperweight) and I love mechanical typewriters. (Not writing on them, although that’s fun, but the idea of their existence. They say William Gibson wrote the first draft of Neuromancer on a typewriter. Dude.)

I bristle hard at the notion of embracing the pretense of artistry without putting in the work. But I am deeply in love with the romantic ideal of the lone wordsmith, pounding out the symbols in a desperate attempt to convey some significant meaning. (It’s not quite the same magic when you’re actually doing it, of course.) I guess, so long as I continue writing, I get to also lust after the iconography of writers. WOO!

This Primus song is one of those: “The Pressman”

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