Blind spots

My laptop screen has a row of dim spots along the bottom left edge. My kitchen faucet has to be stopped slightly left of center, or else it drips. My air conditioner can’t get lower than 78 in the summertime.

These are the little “quirks” we learn to live with in the things that belong to us. We understand and accept their imperfections. Sometimes we become so accustomed to them that we actually forget they exist, and we certainly don’t think of them as problems.

But for most people, they are. Most people would call my laptop screen and my kitchen sink and my A/C broken. Or at least damaged. They would not want to buy these things in this condition.

Manuscripts can be like this. We writers spend so much time close-up in our stories that we don’t see the problems anymore. The blemishes, the quirks.

That’s why we need good crit partners and trusted readers, people who can act as fresh eyes and give us the truth: Your screen is damaged, your sink is leaky, your air conditioner is pathetic.

That way we know what needs to be fixed.

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6 Comments

  1. I agree that feedback (alpha and beta readers and so on) are invaluable, and I’ve gotten a lot of help from simply having my Kindle read my stuff to me (that way I can — I hope — find the very worst things before anybody else sees them :-) ).

    I think I’m going to write a blog post about the rest, though, since there is a role for glitches, imperfections, rough edges, and random chance in writing, I can enjoy them in art in ways that I wouldn’t from my air conditioner. :-)

    My laptops and faucets are about like yours, by the way. I’m fine with that.

  2. Lovely post, Kristan. I enjoyed this.

  3. Juliann

    So true!!!

  4. You said it. I think an honest crit from an even more honest friend is one of the best learning experiences. It definitely took me a while to trust and accept someone else’s judgment.

  5. Anthony-
    Glad I’m not the only one. :)

    Mieke & Juliann-
    Thanks!

    Jonathan-
    Developing that feedback mechanism — both giving and taking — does take time. It’s that combination of practice/experience/maturity, which makes almost all things better. ;)

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