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.

Second, Andreas piped up again asking that dumb question about 813.52 here.

Finally Brighid sent me over the edge in her bewitching statement here.

I noticed.

And to think I teach writing for a living. Good God.

Be patient with yourself, Cheri.

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.

About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
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7 Responses to Claircognizance

  1. Douglas says:

    I do not have a crystal ball, I am not as perceptive as I’d like to think I am, and I often just do not “get it” but I had little trouble understanding your last post, your metaphor was clear to me. Writing is difficult. I worry about being too precise, and about overestimating the reader’s perception, and about boring him/her to death with detail. Too long? Too short? Obscuring the point? Being too blatant?

    Machines are so much easier… they work or they don’t.

  2. Brighid says:

    Giving me powers I’m not ready to handle could be a very big mistake. Encouraging me to expand an elder brain could also be a mistake, but that task I accept with a humble heart.

  3. Sir Jeremy says:

    If, not quite understanding what we write on a first reading, our reader doesn’t bother to read our piece again the better to understand it, then good riddance to him. We shouldn’t write to indulge a stupid, lazy, or functionally illiterate reader.

    If we write the way we love, readers will come, and they’ll be the right ones.

  4. Cheri says:

    Sir Jeremy,
    Yes to your last sentence.

    In reviewing my pieces in 813.52 and in Charlotte was on to something, revisions were necessary.

  5. andreaskluth says:

    My god, this is a great honor!

    To think that I should have annoyed a great writer not once but twice!

    For years, as I was advancing in age, I became anxious about losing my edge–not annoying as well as I used to. Now I see that I still have it in me.

    Extrapolating from the positions of high esteem in which I hold my annoyers, those who have pushed me with their persnickety and pedantic piffle to improve my writing, I now consider myself to have a certain eminence on this web site.

    • Cheri says:

      My claircognizance told me you would find these references high honors—to annoy Little Miss Sunshine twice.

      And yes, to your last sentence–the part about appreciating those who take the time to question written thoughts.

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