I took this picture a few years back when on a trip to the L.A. Zoo with my kids. Only afterward, when sorting through my shots for the day did I run across this remarkable act. Once I looked closer, it was clear what was really going on.
The same is true about many things in our lives.
You’ve been chatting online for the past few weeks with the girl of your dreams named Karen. Surprise. It’s actually a guy named Kyle who enjoys playing World of Warcraft and overdoses on double-stuff Oreos. Oh yeah. And that supplement you’re taking to help you beef up a little. Surprise. It shuts down your liver and has also been shown to cause an increase in breast tissue growth.
Things aren’t always what they seem. We simply need to take a closer look.
Karen/Kyle tells you that she has a closet full of Manolo Blahnik shoes and, of course, you should know better… no self-respecting woman would be caught dead in a non-trending shoe. Or your eyes start turning yellow and the little girl at the grocery store mentions that your boobs are as big as her Mommy’s, you need to pay attention.
With writing, it takes two things to bring this clarity, time and a second pair of eyes. Do yourself a favor. When you’re finished with your masterpiece and think it’s ready to send out to agents and publishers to fight over, take a moment. Well, more like three months of moments. Stash the book away somewhere so you’re not tempted. After time has passed, retrieve it, send it out to a few of your favorite beta readers and wait for comments. Then, armed with fresh feedback, go back through your story with a fine-toothed comb, and take no prisoners.
Our eyes may play tricks on us, but soon enough, if we look long and hard enough, we realize what the truth is. Let that be true about our writing as well.
Until next week – Don’t Look Down
by William Darrah Whitaker