Posts Tagged ‘writing’
“Communication Is a Two-Way Street” is a trite metaphor that, although useful at times, is an incomplete description of the reality of the process of communications. Yes, there are senders and receivers in communications. The senders can only control how they present messages. They can’t control how messages are received. Only receivers can control their reception.
I remember discussing the work of William Styron in his books Sophie’s Choice and The Confession of Nat Turner and how I love the way that his language flows so that the reader is enveloped in the story. The person with whom I was discussing it complained that Styron has tendency to show off his vocabulary, to “use a fifty-cent word when a ten-cent word will do.”
Accuracy has an important role to play in building world, plot and character. Every time we flub or cheat a detail, we’re making our audience, at least part of which will catch any inaccuracy, do more work. In writerly terms, it’s called throwing our audience out of the story. It means that something has gone wrong enough to remind an audience that the story is only a story. In order to get back to the point where the story is a world that the audience is visiting, the process of suspending disbelief has to start all over again.
Despite our society’s romantic, individualistic notions, ideas don’t spring fully formed from the aether. There is no cosmic fountain of creativity. The muses, just like all the other gods, are relics of superstition.
The second wife asked me one day why I never wrote poems like that for her, and she was mostly right. I rarely did. I didn’t want to tell her that she was such a critical reader I didn’t feel free to experiment and take risks with my poetry. More importantly, performing on demand for such a critical audience would have felt like a chore. I didn’t think that she would appreciate it if I didn’t have it “just right” and original. (Writing love poems as a metaphor for marital sex?)
Editing requires the strange ability to stand in the place of the audience and the author simultaneously. As an editor reads a piece, whether it be a story or a journal article, they have to understand what the author intended to say without losing track of not just what one individual reader will take away, but how the piece will come across to readers with varying experiences and levels of understanding. The outsider’s perspective shows them the weaknesses in the piece, while the insider’s perspective allows them to make suggestions for improvement that are consistent with the author’s intent.
As a medical writer, I’ve noticed that most medical writers I meet are female. A quick Google search using the keywords‚ “freelance medical writer‚” produced seven female and three male writers (approx. 2:1 ratio) from the first 10 eligible results. While it is difficult to draw statistically relevant conclusions from such a small sample size, it certainly implies a trend.
The American Medical Writers Association is the leading professional organization for medical communicators, with over 5,500 members from around the world. The ratio of female to male members is 4449:1227 (approx. 4:1), mirroring the trend observed with the Google search.