As the season change approaches (not a minute too soon, if you ask me), I’ve been doing a lot of what I consider the invisible work involved in keeping my kids clothed: weeding the too-small clothes from their wardrobes, sorting through spring and summer things to find what’s needed, patching hand-me-downs, scouring second-hand shops and sales, not to mention the eleventy-billion loads of laundry required. These are things my kids (and, let’s face it, my husband) don’t think about or notice. All they care is that there are clean clothes that fit, available when needed.
All this “invisible” work has got me thinking about the invisible work of writing. You know, the hours spent searching for the perfect rhyme, or re-writing the same sentence until it sounds just right. The subtle structuring of sentences, the addition of alliteration (see what I did there?), and the weaving in of themes. Then, of course, there’s all the*really* invisible work: the time spent trading critiques and integrating feedback – both from your crit partners and what you learned through critiquing their work.
Our goal as a writer is to make all this work stay invisible. The reader shouldn’t notice these finer details, they should just see a world they get lost in, a book they can’t put down.
But as readers who are writers, it’s our job to peek behind the curtain and see what makes the writing work. So I urge you, next time you’re reading something that’s taking your breath away, take a minute and examine it. See how the writer is pulling you in. Then take that information and apply it to your own writing. Sure, it may disrupt your enjoyment of the book, but I guarantee you’ll be a better writer for it.