Noticing the Little Things...Too Much?

Saturday, June 04, 2011
Lately I've been doing a lot more editing and reading than writing. It's during these times that I often find that I have to quiet my editor's voice when I'm not working. Knowing too much about something can sometimes a distraction. I find that when I'm recreational reading, for example, my writer's mind jumps in and finds an amazing passage. I then want to dissect it and pick apart how the author put the pieces together. Or, I'm fully engaged in a fast-paced thriller when my editorial eye notices that the style being used has some interesting nuances and variations from a style manual. Why did they design the book that way or use that phrase? And, then sometimes, I find myself wanting to edit the news stream in Facebook. (No, not really! Okay, well, maybe sometimes. Don't you?)
Do you ever think of your skills, whether in the writing/editing/painting/photography/cooking arenas, as your Achilles' heel? What I mean by this is, you may enjoy your creative pursuit, but do you enjoy it so much that you notice the littlest things and it distracts from your overall enjoyment? Do you look at the trees when it might be more enjoyable to look at the forest...or the Google satellite map? Or do you find you can turn your focus off?
Some days, fortunately, I think I can subdue my editing and writing zone. Then I hope that on the other days, when my keen editorial eye is at its sharpest, I don't run into the "damaged" piece written during my mellowed time off from the editorial world. If I do find the wobbly written piece, I just hold my breath, tuck the piece of paper away, and smile. After all, tomorrow is another day.

Elizabeth King Humphrey, a writer and editor, is looking forward to some beach reading this summer and hopes to be using only her vacation eyes.


Sioux Roslawski said...

I love to "dissect" shorter pieces--editorials, poems, short stories--and look at how they're crafted. Novels and full-length memoirs...not so much, since I like to get lost in them.

However, I do get a bit miffed every time I see McDonald's ad "i'm lovin' it" in a magazine or on Tv as I simultaneously wonder why kids often fail to capitalize "I." Perhaps there's a connection?

Linda said...

Every word you wrote describes me. I'm not sure I can un-do that tendency, but I don't find myself stressing over it.

Thanks for the good read!


Brenda said...

I confess when I am reading a book for FUN I give way to the pleasure of it. If I am watching a movie, the same. I do write down words, or sentences I love and make notes along the way because it might inspire me later, but I give way to the joy reading brings me. I am a glutton that way.

Helen W. Mallon said...

Brenda, I agree that being a glutton is definitely an asset when it comes to reading. I consider myself more of a slut,actually. I love everything I read, as long as it's well done.

I get hung up --but also encouraged--when I encounter the mistakes in a book. (The lovely stuff goes down like wine.) I miss the days of innocence when I didn't 'notice' flaws but was able to lose myself in the world novelists create--without feeling I would like to redo the architecture. On the other hand, it's good to realize how damn hard it is to write a flawless book. It underscores the humanity of the process. And it's touching that human beings really can't write perfect books, but that this doesn't stop us from trying.

Barb Hodges said...

Me too. I read like a writer all the time, but it does not get in my way. I am reading a book now and the author uses her words in creative ways and her story line is so good that I am able to get in there with her.

Debra Mayhew said...

I enjoyed this post, and could definitely relate to it. As a writer, I want to read with a critical eye, but often I find myself re-reading a paragraph over and over and thinking of whether or not I would've done it that way. Reading like this gets in the way of just relaxing with a great story (especially since I'm not an editor!), so I have to try and dial it back a little!

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