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Live or love? Of or if?

When typos and misreads lead to discovery.

If you’re like me, you constantly make the I/O keyboard mistake on your smart phone. You mean to text “I love you” but you press send just in time to see “I live you.” Or you tap out: “If course!” How many texts have you sent that say: “LOL, I meant of!”

In Michael Silverblatt’s interview with the poet Rae Armantrout for KCRW radio, he made a similar error when reading one of Armantrout’s poems: He replaced “lonely” for “lovely.” And he came up with a plausible reason for his erroneous substitution.

The reading mistake got me thinking about the ways we stumble upon new meaning. How many times have you typed out or read one word only to create the exact opposite meaning by using the wrong letter through error or visual replacement? And how often has that error led to a fresh approach to an idea?

The fact is: I’ve had this happen a lot, and I am always fascinated how an error can lead me down a new path of meaning and storytelling. I do now love you. I do not love you. Not/now: There’s a dangerous one.

Wondering: Has this happened to anyone else? And do you have favorite errors that have led you to reconsider your position on the direction of a story? Or a word choice?

Originally Published

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