Blind Spots

I love the tex­ture of tree bark, but that isn’t why I took this pho­to. If you take Writing Road Trip | Blind Spots by Lisa Bullarda sec­ond and more scruti­nous look, you’ll see that this is a pic­ture of a well-cam­ou­flaged moth.

Some­times there’s more going on around us than our eyes take in. In dri­ving, they’re called blind spots: areas around the vehi­cle that the dri­ver can’t see with­out mak­ing a spe­cial effort.

Blind spots are a dri­ving dan­ger, but they can also be a read­ing plea­sure. Most (non-aca­d­e­m­ic) read­ers don’t real­ly care what tac­tics the writer has used to cre­ate the book; those read­ers focus on their own response— if they liked the book or not — and if the answer is a pos­i­tive one, it doesn’t real­ly mat­ter to them how the writer man­aged to accom­plish that affec­tion. In fact, over-think­ing the writer’s tech­niques might even spoil things some­what for the read­er, just as know­ing a magician’s tricks can spoil a mag­ic act.

I peri­od­i­cal­ly remind my stu­dents — and myself — that the point of learn­ing to become stronger writ­ers is not so that we can show off by per­form­ing a series of fan­cy writ­ers’ tricks. The point is to cre­ate the best mag­ic we can; mag­ic that awes and aston­ish­es the read­er. We want the tricks them­selves to be invis­i­ble to the casu­al read­ing eye. Learn­ing more writ­ing tricks gives a writer a greater reper­toire to draw on, but the point isn’t for the tricks to take over the writ­ing and call atten­tion to themselves.

Some­times it’s the sim­plest mag­ic that cre­ates the best show.

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