[This piece first appeared four years ago. I love my Freewrite (and the Traveler) even more than I did then.]
As far back as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a writer. Professionally.
Much of this desire came from my mom (an extremely well-read and gifted person, now age 80), but it also came from several different authors who inspired me. Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, J.R.R. Tolkien. These three moved me beyond–ironically–mere words.
It wasn’t until I read some political and social criticism in 9th grade, however, that I realized that as much as I liked writing fiction, I absolutely loved writing non-fiction. As early as fifth grade, I had actually begged my teacher to let me write a research paper. I don’t remember a year of my life after that (up to my current age, 49) during which I didn’t write a research paper or papers or the equivalent. Weird, I know.
I forced myself to learn typing on my maternal grandfather’s typewriter sometime in the eighth grade. Then, when in high school, I took typing. Weirdly enough, this might have been the single most important class I took prior to college! Almost immediately after learning how to type on manual and electric typewriters, I learned how to type on my Commodore 64 and, then, in 1984, on my Mac.
A month or so ago–after agonizing over the price–I decided to take the plunge and order the Astrohaus FREEWRITE.
I had read all the reviews I could find on the internet, and, while generally positive, a few were downright hostile and mocking. According to one review, I might actually be a “hipster” for purchasing the FREEWRITE. If a hipster can have 7 kids, go to Sunday Mass, obsess over progressive rock, and have grey hair, then I’m a hipster.
For those of you who have yet to see a picture of the FREEWRITE, it is a thing of intense beauty. From its weight to its feel to its lines to its keyboard to its screen to its off/on switch, this is simply a piece of humane and perfectly crafted technology.
The great German-Italian philosopher and man of letters, Romano Guardini, argued that technology could always be judged by one question and one standard. Does the technology make us more or make us less human?
After using the FREEWRITE for a month, I can state that it makes us more human and grandly so. I actually look forward to using it. Not only does it feel great, but I can type much faster on it than I can with my Mac keyboard and, even my specialized DAS KEYBOARD.
For those of you who have yet to see it, the FREEWRITE is only a keyboard and screen. It has internet capabilities, but only to send things to the cloud, not to receive them. Thus, it’s 100% distraction free. The company calls it a “smart typewriter,” and this seems to me more than good marketing. It seems quite accurate. There’s no Facebook, no twitter, no anger, no hatred, no politics, no trolls, and no spewing of the spleen–just a human (in this case, the 49-year old variety), a keyboard, and a screen.
Imagination, fly, be free!
I only have one complaint with my FREEWRITE, and it’s a minor complaint. When I hit the space bar, there’s a strange echo and reverb as if a spring is about to give. Should this actually happen in the realm beyond the realm of sound, I assume that Astrohaus will fix it. The keyboard itself isn’t quiet, but the space key has its own unique and weird sound, quite different from the other keys. Overall, though, I love the keyboard–its feel as well as its sound. It’s not quiet, but it is satisfying.
I realize that for many writers out there, the ca. $500 price tag will serve as a preventative. Let me assure you, though, given the quality of the FREEWRITE as well as the distraction-free aspects of it, it’s more than worth the price. Far more than worth it. I was able to recoup my costs in just a few weeks of blog submissions. Granted, I could’ve spent that money in other ways, but I can’t think of any other ways that would’ve increased both my creativity and my (much) freer imagination than the FREEWRITE.