Artifacts of the rewrite

When I made my second “final” pass through chapter 1 of my novel, I still found a few typos. Embarrassing, yes. Inevitable, likely. Fixable, certainly.

When I rewrote the novel from first person narration to third, I had two laptops open before me. On one was the first person draft of the story, and I kept my eyes on that as I read it. On the other, where my fleet fingers flew, I wrote the third person draft. I found a curious phenomenon by doing this. I was, of course, making transcription errors galore, but they were nearly always proper spellings of the wrong words. It happened mostly with shorter words. “Send” might become “end,” for example. “Now” into “not.” (That one plagues me in straightforward writing.) “Among” became “amount.” And so on.

Often these would leave me puzzling as to what my meaning was and where in the sentence the fix was needed. If the typo was actually the correct word, then something else was wrong in the sentence for it to work. Of course, since I’ve been through that chapter a gazillion times, it was easy enough to figure these things out (and most of the errors really were quite obvious).

I’m telling myself that these kinds of typos are artifacts of the process. I had my eyes on a different screen as I was typing. Normally, by seeing what I type as it appears on the screen, I can reinforce the work of my fingers. With my eyes on other text, I don’t have that visual reinforcement, and much of the typing falls to “muscle memory.” Thus the words that sometimes come out are ones that the muscles in my hands have executed many times before without the governance of my attention. It makes sense.

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