by cheri block sabraw
In my junior year of college, I snagged the part of a sorceress in the annual Band Frolic Follies. Dressed in black and topped with a pointy velvet hat on which glittery moons shone, I played Beatrice, a Gypsy messenger of time and place.
Off to the side, a translucent orb, as big as a beach ball, sat eerily on a table that was draped with a black cloth. The spot light beamed down on me in tones of purple, green, and red; water hit the dry ice on the stage and a spooky fog suspended itself a foot off the floor.
My purple hands rotated around the globe like a kinetic sculpture as I made my first prediction.
At the end of that evening, we won the trophy at Band Frolic Follies. I took my crystal ball home and screwed it back over the light bulbs on the ceiling in my dorm room, restoring my light fixture to its original design.
* * * * *
Years have passed. No more bit parts. Now I teach writing.
Some people read my writing here at Notes from Around the Block.
So, I’ve been wondering something lately.
Do you have a crystal ball?
I was sure you owned and used one when I posted three successive essays this past month that I loved but that confused you.
What in this mystic world is wrong with you?
My writing was clear as that translucent orb, wasn’t it?
* * * * *
First, Andreas annoyed me when he wondered about how Elsie Poncher was related to my post here.
And to think I teach writing for a living. Good God.
To think that I remind my students of the following:
- Don’t assume you are being clear. Be clear.
- Take your reader by the hand and walk in a straight line so both of you will get where you both want to go. Zigzagging and skipping may cause sagging and tripping.
- Get into your reader’s chair (ergonomic, soft, or leather) and read from that place, from your reader’s vantage point.
- Take your draft and let it sit and relax for a day or two. Then go back and read it. Does it still make sense?
- Is a step missing? Are your ideas in a sequence that your reader will follow? I know you follow your own thought process but that process may be flawed.
- Finally, don’t assume your reader has a crystal ball.