May 1, 2024
Her Perspective

My favorite mistake

“Typo, typo, it’s off to work I go,” I sing. I’m the worst typist ever — way better at navigating TurboTax than Microsoft Word. Three years ago, when my dear editor hired me, I had never used Microsoft Word (of course I didn’t disclose that). I hadn’t typed since 1979 when I took Typing 101 in high school. We hand wrote our essays in blue books in college. I had a secretary in the ’80s and ’90s to handle all my correspondence. As a mom, I always volunteered for the PTA, club, or krewe president so I’d have a secretary to do the typing. Or asked my kids to do it.

Yoda says, “Do or do not, there is no try.” I beg to differ, Yoda. Trial and error is how I’ve learned. Three years ago, it took me more time to type my stories than it did to do the research, interviews and write a rough draft. Who spends hours researching the correct usage of the em dash? Me. “I want to be creative with my quote attributions,” I mused dreamily. My editor quickly schooled me and changed anything like “mused dreamily” to “said.”

For longer than I’m willing to admit, I battled with Mr. Bullet Point. Locked and loaded, every time I pulled the trigger, he took over and wreaked havoc on my remaining sentences. Unbeknownst to me, he should have been benched until the last second of the game — a true buzzer beater. I praise the day I met my best friend, Mrs. Undo — she annihilated my foe and magically placed my words back into sentences, not bullet points. (I used a Sharpie marker to create bullet points for a while. I’m good at making a perfect black dot but thankfully that skill is obsolete now.)

I’ve come a long way, Baby Yoda, but I still make mistakes. Last week I inadvertently typed sired instead of wired in a story. It certainly made the story more interesting but not in a good way so I’m glad I caught it. And don’t get me started on Mutt and Jeff, aka Copy and Paste. I’m like Aunt Clara, Samantha’s bumbling aunt on Bewitched — abracadabra … oops — I never know where those words are going to appear. And why are they in a different font?

Did you know if you’re trying to create an invoice for $100 and you don’t hit the shift key at the correct moment, your invoice will be for 4100? Don’t ask how I know. Miss Shift and I are not good friends — she is way too temperamental and quick to anger. If you aren’t precise, she will spew out all caps at you. I bet she dates drummers and bass players; they hit the notes just right. I prefer guitar players and lead singers; they bend the notes and can slur the words and still make good music. Sometimes when I make a lot of mistakes, I shout her name, but I leave out the f.

Life lesson: Never let lack of skill or knowledge stop you from doing something that inspires you. The learning curve may be steep (a mountain in my case), but like Mother Superior sang to Julie Andrews, “Climb every mountain.”

A headline in a major newspaper left the l out of public — too bad the story was about politics and not hoo-ha hair. I have a friend who made an error on a social media post; he meant to type the word sick but typed a d instead of an s. But the worst thing about it was he blamed it on auto-correct or voice-to text. What I remember most is that he insisted on blaming something or someone else, instead of taking ownership. He could have used humor or humility to diffuse the situation, but he chose to be arrogant and defensive.

Human error — those words are inherently connected. We all make mistakes. It’s how we handle them that reveals our character. Not just typos — mistakes are made in life. How do you handle them? In my experience, life is a lot like typing: You grind it out, you have to proof your work, trust another set of eyes to take a look, own your mistakes, laugh at yourself occasionally, but always strive to improve/get it right. You may be struggling with Mr. Bullet Point or Miss Shift while everyone else has turned in their work, but it could be worse. At least the days of Liquid Paper/Wite-Out are over. Alas, if only we could summon Mrs. Undo.

P.S. Texting has different rules. Errors are OK. Everyone knows if I text “if,” I really mean “of.” Texting is like a scrimmage with no referees. Thank goodness, or I’d be in the penalty box.

Liz Biggs is a Pensacola native and mother of four. Once upon a time, she had a high-pressure career but now she has a pension and is a freelance writer for Bella Magazine. Liz enjoys music, dancing, tennis and travel and tries to find humor in everything.