If I were to suggest one exercise for writers who stumble and fall into this morass of philosophic and analytic musings we call Anonymole, it is this: Read and edit other writers’ work.
I’ve collected four acolytes who need help. Although I’m just barely out of writer’s diapers myself, I can help these authorial toddlers avoid the moshpit of old dogs, table corners, sliding glass doors and unstable dressers. That is, I can point out the obvious problems in their writing.
And they are obvious—to me, now, at least. And these folks are effusively grateful. And I’m indulgently magnanimous in my pronouncements (kidding, really. I’m kidding, y’all).
As I read and edit, with an eight-eyed group watching, what strikes me as dichotomous is this: They instantly know their mistakes when I point them out.
What? How can you write THIS, yet know that THIS sucks when I hold a microscope to it?
And there in lies the WTF moment entwined with a Holy Shit moment. Our writer’s mind is Grand Mal divided from our reader’s mind. Two views of the world living in one brain.
And, (crux of the moment coming up), it is the gradual training of our writer’s mind to follow the advice and understanding of our reader’s mind that all writers strive to achieve.
Case in point.
You write 1000 words. It’s brilliant, evocative and gripping. You squirrel it away and forget about it for months. Occasion permits that you discover it anew and reread it. Gaw! What the fuck is this tripe? It’s heinous. (Well, maybe you’re more forgiving to yourself; I’m a recovering self-oppressed sewage-mucker and know my place.)
Regardless, what your writer’s mind wrote as timeless prose, your reader’s mind hip-checked, crushed and then slammed into the glass.
How can the two minds be so divergent? So disconnected? Ah-ha! I have no idea. However, I believe that is the secret. Writing well is the coercion of your reader’s mind over the top of your writer’s mind such that the words you pen reflect a single effort, produce a unified view of your story.
Of course, if your reader’s mind is undeveloped, Penthouse advice column your go-to literary hallmark, then the challenge of merging your two minds might be as easy as a twelve-pack and a hot day noodling catfish.
But, using my plebes as examples: If their two minds are acres divided, then presenting their errors, as-they-watch, will nudge their divided minds ever closer.
A master writer is one where their reader and writer minds are one.
That’s what I tell myself at least, the liar that I am.
What do you think? Are there two minds, the writer and the reader? Something else? Am I full of shit? Hold on, don’t answer that.