I spent most of an hour one morning earlier this week re-keying two pages of my current manuscript. Two pages – double spaced Arial ten font. I am always surprised how, once I’ve worked for a while, I look back and see so little on the page…two pages after 60 minutes at the keys. And here’s the thing, the thing every writer has to deal with: what I’ve spent an hour on (much, much more if you include past drafts, editing, and rewriting), my reader will spend one minute – maybe two if they are slow like me – reading.
I like to think the human mind is powerful and will pick up on, in that one or two minutes, mistakes made over those hours of labor. I also like to think that when I have done the writing especially well, the mind of my reader will take notice and the words will fly – as I have intended – like arrows off my bow, lodging deep in their experience. But the fact is that my reader, bless them for it, will zip over these hand-crafted sentences like a beagle after a squirrel. They will notice only the most course characteristics of the terrain under their paws.
Writing is an intricate and slow, very slow, craft. In this fact of my reader’s speed over my own, I think I may have finished coming to grips with this innate slowness. My readers will not pour over my writing like I have. But, they will read it! Some of them will read it and a few may even see some of the more difficult moves I’ve made. If they think upon any of it for even that minute or two, what more can I dare to ask?