Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Visual Aids

My eyes have been getting very tired when I work lately, so yesterday I went to the eye doctor and got my first prescription for reading glasses. The doctor told me that one eye hadn't developed all the way because it was weaker to begin with, so it just relied on the other one to do all the work. Psh, I thought. What a slacker.

And so my new glasses are supposed to stimulate my weaker eye to make it want to work harder, and cooperate with my stronger eye instead of just letting it do all the work. Who knew there could be so much drama in the ocular workplace?

All of this talk about working together to help me see better had me thinking a lot, naturally, about critique groups and how valuable they are. I realize every time I submit my work to my critique group how much I can improve my writing just because they helped me see it more clearly.

Their disorientation and confusion over what I thought was crystal clear may be disheartening at first, but it's also invaluable. It lets me see where I'm leading the reader astray in my writing. I long to be subtle and witty and evocative (my new favorite word), and yet, well, I'm not. But with help from their eyes, I might still get there.

In much the same way a dedicated group of readers can quickly identify the things that are missing, they can also see things I had no idea were there: relationships, connections, possibilities, deeper and different meanings. It's like putting a figurative magnifying glass over the essence of the story. It's a beautiful thing.

I'm grateful for all of the people and prescriptions that help me see better. What helps you see your own writing more clearly?


Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Critique groups and editors are like a good pair of glasses. Some things seem so obvious when they point them out that I can’t believe I didn’t catch them myself.

bfav said...

The blog community helps me a ton. There are many helpful blogs where you can post your writing to get feedback on you work. Miss Snark's First Victim and Flogging the Quill are two of my favorites.

lgcarlson said...

Jennifer has hit on something here. Our own eyes get lazy and quit seeing our writing quirks and habits, so what do you do? You "recruit" new eyes. As a member of Jennifer's online critique group, I appreciate her eyes, even if one of them is a bit lazy :)

Linda L. Henk said...

I have a pair of single-vision computer-distance glasses. My neck was getting sore attempting to find the right focal length through my trifocals. Critique groups and classes like the one Kerrie Flanagan taught (Reading like a Writer) help me in my writing. Maybe I just like working with colored pencils.

Jennifer Carter said...

Yes, those obvious things sting a little!

Thanks for your support, Lynn, and also for my new favorite word. ;)

Linda, I think those colored pencils really made an important impression on you. Kerrie must be onto something there!

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