Anna Spargo-Ryan

A bit of manual stimulation

Apparently I found it necessary to buy a typewriter. The good news is that I managed to get it out of its case and on to my desk, whereafter I typed some words and lost my finger between the keys quite often (see Fig. 1).

I’ve been led to believe that typewriters need names. This one is an Adler Contessa in very bright orange and so far I’ve called it “Whose idea was this?” and “Is it possible that the novelty has worn off before I’ve even opened it?”, but I may settle on Clarice.

The purchase of said typewriter is my first superficial step in a move toward a more southern part of this fine land. Not Tasmania – though I would like that very much – but the Mornington Peninsula. Just the top bit. Last week I took myself for a wee journey down there and looked at trees and houses that might have been literal castles and the ocean was right there so I breathed quite heavily.

It is such a nice part of Victoria, what with the village atmosphere but the freeway just around the corner. I have this thought (delusion?) that I will sit in my brand new study with Clarice and overlook my children who have run so far into my 3/4 acre block that I can no longer see them and have they been bitten by a snake? who knows, this is the country! and let’s all have a barbecue.

What I really like about the above image is that you can see where I made a mistake in ‘loud’. I do so much deleting and rewriting while I’m blogging that it’s kind of organic to see the mistake right there on the page.

Today I finished working on a piece I’ve been writing about women and mental health, and the way those with low- to mid-level illnesses can get lost in all the fuss. I spoke to some wonderful women and my word if they didn’t make me feel even more like crying openly in front of everyone. Mental illness happens to some pretty great people.

Writing 2000 words about it was draining. By the end I just wanted to set fire to it and stamp my feet until someone transplanted my brain with one that works properly. Instead, I made a lasagne and watched Rum Diary, which helped me to feel both More Normal and also In Good Company.

Then this lady said to me, “Often the more talented, the more dogged.” and so I went and painted the Mona Lisa because Christ am I dogged.

Now if you’ll excuse me, Clarice and I are going to bed.


I’m Anna, a digital strategist and writer who likes to drink 'Ice Tea' but doesn't understand why it's not called 'Iced Tea'. By night and occasionally morning, I eat things, write things, berate my children, walk my dogs and hug my chocolate.


  • October 22, 2012 8:59 pm

    Great name!
    The country!? lolol.. dont think so my friend!
    Sending you this message from there.. not country see.. net access!

  • October 22, 2012 9:06 pm

    Nooooo you can’t call your beautiful machine Clarice. You HAVE watched Silence of the Lambs haven’t you?!

  • October 22, 2012 9:21 pm

    We could be neighbours … (pun not intended). Do it! Peninsula link will be finished early in 2013 too, which makes travelling north/north-east super easy. We’re on the bay in Mt Martha.

      • October 23, 2012 6:58 am

        They’re probably our top two for secondary school. Peninsula is fairly conservative, whereas Woodleigh are more into independent thinkers, but both have excellent reputations.

  • October 22, 2012 9:41 pm

    My Mum had a typewriter. It was an archaic monster but I loved it. I would sit in my room and type stories for hours. I wish I knew what happened to it. And I like the name Clarice, strong yet pretty x

  • October 22, 2012 10:14 pm

    I love Clarice. We had a typewriter, I loved it. I used to love typing up my own magazine, making up find-a-word puzzles (which would spell out a message when you got all the words! ) and typing up pages of ” All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.” I wonder what happened to the old girl? Gone in the great divorce garage sale of ’03, no doubt.
    Your Peninsula acreage writing lifestyle sounds divine, minus the snakes of course.
    I’m glad you found some solace in Lasagne and a movie, I hope you and Clarice both wake up feeling very refreshed.

  • October 22, 2012 10:20 pm

    Are you the type of person who prefers vinyl to the MP3?

  • October 22, 2012 10:59 pm

    I’ve always liked pushing buttons and tapping on key boards, but nothing beats that satifying zing when you get to the end of a line and you push the “thing” along to get to the start of the next. And the smell of them. Thanks for the memory Clarice.

  • October 23, 2012 12:50 pm

    I had a typewriter when I was a little girl. I used to write short stories. I’m dyslexic though, so now that I have the choice, I much prefer using a computer and spell check. I didn’t ever name my typewriter. I did have a coffee grinder named John Claude.

  • October 23, 2012 9:55 pm

    So tell me, why did you buy the typewriter for? I live in the country on an acre block and we haven’t been bitten by a snake yet :)

  • October 30, 2012 6:40 pm

    Oh, you lovely lady you! Looking forward to reading it. :) Hope you and Clarice are still enjoying each other’s company. It must be so refreshing/maddening not being able to edit yourself manically. Or perhaps you bought white-out in bulk so you still can?! You will have to tell us if you think it changes your writing style, whether it’s best for some things than others. I wonder how many editors receive feature article pitches as type-written hard copy letters? You could conduct an experiment! Yes! And tabulate and graph the results!

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