I’m going to come right out and say it. I’m a keyboard nut. Completely and utterly.
I blame my upbringing.
I started typing when I was 12. One of my earliest writing memories is of sitting outside in the garden – the sun was shining, because when you’re 12 the sun always shines – tapping away at an old portable typewriter. An Olivetti, I think. It belonged to my grandfather, who was typing up his Great War tales of derring do (which is a completely other topic I might post about sometime, because it’s worth hearing about).
Then some time later I bought my own typewriter. An old black Royal. I got it in a sale room, and probably paid no more than £1 for it. I never paid more than £1 for anything. I bought an amazing desk with a fold down lid made of solid oak for £1 which I used for 30 years.
So anyway, the point is that old Royal spoiled me. There was something about the sheer physical effort of pressing the keys and getting words down on paper that made the act of writing something different. I must have written 250,000 words on the Royal before I moved on to a portable and then, later, an electric typewriter. Eventually, and pretty soon after they came out, I bought an Amstrad computer.
However, something all these had in common was solid, clattery keyboards. That’s what I was used to. That’s what I associated with writing.
So… roll the clock forward to 2010, and I’ve been working with computers for 25 years and used keyboards of all kinds, but that was work, not creation. I would use whatever fell to hand (or finger).
But in 2010 I started writing again, and suddenly discovered that none of the keyboards I used was up to the job. There was a disconnect between my somatic memory and the physical act of writing. The keyboards weren’t the right size or shape or… well, feel!
I bought a MacBook, but the keyboard, while OK, wasn’t it.
I bought an Apple keyboard, and then an apple wireless keyboard, and still not it.
The keys were soft and squishy. They didn’t make a noise. And something about putting words on paper (sorry, I mean screen now, don’t I?) and what I use to perform the task didn’t sit right.
I bought keyboard after keyboard until I finally realized buying another one was plain stupid.
So I did some research, trawled the net finding out what the best keyboards were, and finally drove 25 miles down the road to Stroud to actually try one before committing myself (or being committed).
All of this is some kind of prelude to saying I went and bought a Filco keyboard.
It doesn’t have a numeric keypad, because why in hell would a writer want a numeric keypad? They sell it in two models, defined by whether they contain brown or blue key actions (don’t ask). The brown keys (not the actual colour) don’t go click-click-click so if you work in an office you don’t drive everyone around you mad. The blue keys do go click-click-click, and suddenly I was in heaven. I had found the keyboard I lost when I got rid of my old Royal. Except now I don’t need to lift weights to press the keys down, but when I do press them they go click and clack.
Yes, it drives my family crazy if they can hear it, so I close the office door.
But the main thing is, I love this keyboard. Love it to pieces. It’s precise, professional, and it just feels right.
It cost ten times more than most other keyboards, but whatever the price it was worth it because I can type at least 30% faster than before, and I can type with my eyes closed because the keys fall in exactly the right place, and that noise… my God, the noise! I love it!