Sensory acuity is not getting its proper attention in the discussion of self-editing.
A writer needs acuity in one’s senses while rewriting.
This is where things get all super squishy.
When I talk about sensory acuity, I’m talking about weird stuff like feelings in one’s stomach while one rereads and rereads and rereads one’s words – and that feeling of rising above one’s left shoulder and looking down on oneself and pretending one is someone else who is judging one’s writing.
Don’t we all do this?
I certainly hope no one hovers over their right shoulder – that would be just. plain. weird.
Are you a right-shoulder-hoverer? Stay away from my kids. Just kidding… I don’t have kids.
Sometimes, when one is really desperate to get the words just right, one will actually say them out loud. What’s the point of this? What are we listening for? Nothing! We’re testing our tongues in most instances. If a body of prose is easy on the tongue, then there’s a good chance it will be easily digested by the mind of the reader.
Just because we don’t move our mouths when we read doesn’t mean those cognitive roots aren’t still in there, buried deep – like a, like…… a bundle of brownish brussels sprouts.
And what does the tongue like? First off: get your mind out of the gutter! Are you still thinking about the brownish brussels sprouts? Stop that! because the tongue likes predictability and patterns. It doesn’t want to have to always be doing some crazy new thing just because one’s finger was itching to strike a certain key at a certain time. And the mind – it loves surprises so there is always this struggle between the demands of the mind’s curiosity and the vestigial, cognitive limitations of the tongue. Sometimes we probably get all uppity and we like to pretend that words are these etherial, Platonic things that rest on golden, glowing saucers in the sky that sing and show their names: “Popsicle!” “Parakeet!” “Snowman!” “Forever!” Well it doesn’t really work that way. Words were born from a wet fleshy thing, flailing about – (mind out of gutter) – that first spouted them out before the brain could get its turn.