Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mind Reading

This week at work I’ve been training someone new. I’ve had to show her how to do my job since we’ll be sharing it. I’ve had to work longer hours and spend my whole day explaining things. Before she started I wrote down what I thought she would need to know as a reference guide.

We went through the manual and then I’d show her how to do it. A few times she’d say well what about that or what about this. With a little bit of a red face, I admitted that I had forgotten to write that step down. In my mind I knew how to do that and didn’t even think about writing it down because I thought it would be obvious.

A few years ago while my husband was reading a rough draft of my book he asked me a question about the world I had attempted to build. After I answered he said, “Well you know that but your readers won’t”

Sometimes it’s so hard to convey what you have in your mind onto the paper. I understand what I’ve written and how I’ve described something but I have the whole picture in my head. I know everything.

So that’s the ultimate challenge trying to get even a portion of what you see and known in your head into a reader’s head.

What do you think?


Lazy Writer said...

This is such a great point! When we know something that the readers don't, it's easy to miss the flaw. Good for your husband for catching it!

jenniferneri said...

Great post, Patti!

I think balance is the answer. If you give too many details the reader gets bored, or worse feels the narrator thinks she is stupid. When I edit my work I ask myself what needs to be conveyed, and remove or add as needed.

I am envious you your husband reading, mine is not a reader. :(

strugglingwriter said...

I've been there, teaching co-workers how to do things. I too have left out stuff because it was obvious to me.

I never thought about the parallels to writing, but you're right. They are there.

Dara said...

I agree! I see it my story all so clearly in my head, but it's hard to convey that on paper. I've also had to train people before and it's difficult to remember all the little steps that we sometimes take for granted in our jobs everyday.

What a great parallel to the actual writing process!

Patti said...

LW: sometimes it's hard to find a balance between filling the reader in enough or filling them in too much.

Jennifer: Don't be too jealous, he's only ever read the first draft years ago and that's it.

SW: I've decided that I don't really like training people. I'm more of an independent worker.

Dara: I wish they had an instrument that came with the book that could convey my brain to the readers. That would be so much easier.

Holly Kennedy said...

Writing it truly is much harder than a person thinks it's going to be, that's for sure... envisioning the story is the easy part.

Hope you're having a good summer, Patti!

Patti said...

Holly: I used to thinking writing was just about having a good story and although that's really important, there's so much more.

So far it's been a pretty good summer now that we're getting good weather.

Joseph said...

Hi Patti. It sounds to me like you need to cultivate a really bad memory. It has certainly helped me. If I don't write it down, it's gone. When I re-read what I've written, if it's not there, I don't know it. I don't know how you can learn to forget things, though. It just comes naturally to me. I see you've tried filling your day with raising a family and working and household chores. Hmmm, maybe you just have too much brain power. Try sleeping less. Or maybe you need some financial worries. Quite a lot of good writers had money troubles. Maybe there's your key. Why not go on a writer's retreat to the Hotel Martinez, Cannes, France? Ask for the Penthouse Suite for a couple of weeks at £22,900 a night. (Sorry, I don't know the dollar rate.) When you come back, your book will be well on its way and all your writing troubles will be gone.