Thursday, September 1, 2011

I could finally SEE

[You guys KILLED me yesterday in the comments! You're all freakin hilarious! (Yes, I'm especially looking at you, Michael Offutt.) Seriously, I LOVED reading everyone's comments. It's amazing to see all the ways we are similar and all the ways we're different. I love you guys! Now onto the post:]

Like a million other people, without glasses or contacts, I am legally blind (that basically means you can't see the big E on eye charts).

UNlike millions of people, I was the only one in my family of eight with bad eyesight. I actually didn't even know I had bad eyesight until I was in the third grade and someone told me! (Unlike my son who told me his eyes were "broken" when he was three.)

My teacher led us down to the lunchroom at the beginning of the year for the annual vision screening. I was bored waiting in line because, like everyone else in the lines, we'd passed this test so many times before. When it was my turn, I stepped up to the line with all the confidence of someone taking a test where all they had to do was point three of their fingers in the direction the letter E was turned. (I know! By third grade, you'd think they'd have let us graduate to the eye charts that showed actual letters.)

I wasn't worried at all. I could see just fine. Everything I needed to see was RIGHT THERE. Sure, I might have to be close to things, but didn't everyone?

I stared at the chart, dumbfounded. I couldn't make out any of the letters on the line she pointed at! After a moment of silence, she pointed to the line above it, and asked if I could read that line. I tried my best. I guessed at the answers. I must not have guessed very well, because she moved up a line. After I finished with that one, she asked me to come with her, and put me by myself in front of the stage. My whole class stared at me, knowing I had failed my test. They left to go back to the class, the school nurse re-tested me, then informed me that I need to let my mom know I needed glasses.

I was so blindsided by it, I took a detour to the bathroom on my way back to my classroom and cried.

But THEN, a couple weeks later, I got my new glasses. On the car drive home, I stared at my surroundings in amazement. I could see the rocks in the asphalt! I could see trees on the mountains! I could read the signs on the street! And when I got to school the next day, I could see the chalkboard FROM ANYWHERE IN THE ROOM.

It seemed laughable that I'd been reduced to tears weeks earlier when I'd found out. Because now, I COULD SEE! I could finally see!

I think it's the same way with writing. Sometimes you're so close to your story, you don't realize there are problems from a distance. Sometimes you need to take a break from it and walk far away. And then when you're ready to turn back around and take a look at it, you can see if there's a problem with how clear things are. Things you didn't notice when you were so close to it.

So when things just don't feel quite right, don't go into the bathroom and cry. Walk away for a while! When you come back, you'll finally be able to SEE.


Leigh Ann said...

Ooooh, this is so hard for me. I'm the one who always have to make the fixes as soon as I see what needs to be fixed. Revisions have been known to keep me up all night long.

Yeah. I'm pretty obsessive.

I can't even make any vows on this one, lol. Don't think I"m changing any time soon.

(Loved your glasses story. I *felt* your relief when you could see things. :))

linda said...

Hehe, great story/analogy! It's always fun to look through my old writing and get a different perspective on what I had been certain was absolute brilliance. :P Once I finish my current project I'm planning to put it aside for a month before I tackle revisions. Hopefully that will help me see more clearly!

Peggy Eddleman said...

Leigh Ann-- I didn't mean that you should'nt edit as you go, edit obsessively, or stay up all night editing. :) I just meant that when you get to a point where you can walk away and get some distance, you'll be able to see the whole thing more clearly and find things you missed up close. By all means-- if obsessively editing makes you happy (or keeps you sane... or insane, whichever), do it!

Linda-- Isn't it so awesome how often we write things we had been certain was absolute brilliance? :) It's even better if when we get some distance, we can say, "Oh, my gosh. it WAS absolute brilliance!"

writing and living by Richard P Hughes said...

Excellent post. It reminds me of similar experiences with both seeing and hearing. When you get it fixed, you're amazed at what you see.

Cynthia said...

I enjoyed the story and the way you combined the two. The only time I need my glasses are for driving and the movies or theater shows.

Jennie Bennett said...

That is such a great story! I don't wear glasses so it's hard for me to know the feeling, but I think you conveyed it quite well. You are too awesome lady :)

Chantele Sedgwick said...

Oh my heck! You just told my story! I was in 6th grade though and thought everyone couldn't see the chalkboard from where I sat in the back of the room. I found out my eyes were bad when my mom and sisters and I were driving somewhere and we were playing a license plate game. Not sure which one... Anyway, I realized I couldn't see the letters on the cars in front of us until they were really close and my mom and sisters could. I cried. I had to get glasses and then upgraded to contacts. My eyes get worse every year, but oh well. It's life. I may be blind as a bat but at least I can get help to see, right? :) Great post. I agree about taking a break from your book and come back to it. It's amazing how much you can see if you do that.

Kelley Lynn said...

I'm blind without my contacts too!

I found out I needed glasses in second grade at the eye doctor. Then I asked my second grade teacher if we could do the 'cool eye thing' for everyone in my class. She agreed. FIVE other kids had to get glasses after we did the 'fun eye thing'.

I proceeded to break four pairs between the ages of 8 and 11 playing soccer so my parents told me I had to get contacts :)

So true about stepping away from the story. I think that's why its also good to have a few WIP. We can only get better by writing other things. When we go back after working on something else, we see it in a different way. Maybe with contacts instead of glasses ;)

Jenny S. Morris said...

Great story!!
Mine was in the line to get my driver's license. I listened to what the people said in front of me, and for some reason I knew that I might not pass. When it was my turn, I looked in the eye thing and there wasn't numbers or letters but blurry blocks. So I recited what the person in front of me said. I had a differnt set of letters, so I failed my test. I had to go get glasses. How did I get to be 16 without knowing I needed glasses? I guess I sat at the front of the class all the time.

DRC said...

I found out I needed glasses about three maybe four years ago. Took me a while to ajust. But my eyes aren't that bad and only use them for driving for watching films. I'm short sighted and can't wear them when working at the computer as it gives me a headache.

Loved the way you combined the tale to metaphorical advise.

Abby Fowers said...

Love the analogy and I think it's perfectly true. Sad that we have to cry over it, but sometimes that just helps us move on. :)

Allison Merritt said...

I didn't get contacts until I was 16. I remember watching my first movie in theater and being able to see the actor's faces clearly. It was stunning! The movie was Double Jeopardy.

I think you're right about getting away from the story for a while. Especially if it's one of those that eats at you to be written until you're obsessed with it. What? No, I've never done that. ;)

Carrie Butler said...

Oh, Peggy, I was that kid too! I'll never forget coming back to school that first day with glasses. (Which I neglect to wear now, unless I'm on the computer or driving. lol) Some kid came up to me and said, "You got glasses! I won't call your four-eyes, though, 'cause I'm afraid you'll slug me."

Darn right, kid...

I love how you tied this to writing! :)

Lan said...

I am nodding my head in agreement at both the analogy and the glasses story. I didn't even realise all the things that were wrong with my MS until I went away for a while and came back to the glaring problems. I should have gotten glasses in the eighth grade but didn't realise because only one of my eyes was affected and the good eye was compensating for it!! Loved this post.

LisaAnn said...

Hi Peggy, and thank you so much for your kind words about the loss of my Bridger.

This writing analogy is perfect. I also like to compare writing to star watching. If you look at the stars too closely, they disappear, but when you turn away slightly, there they are right at the corner of your peripheral vision. They were there the whole time. :)

Peggy Eddleman said...

Richard-- I agree!

Cynthia-- Thanks! As adults, my siblings have had to get glasses for the same things.

J.A.-- Awww! A million kinds of thanks!

Chantele-- My story twin! And I totally agree. Contacts have always amazed me. You put them in, and it's like you aren't even blind! You can't say that of any other sense that you may be lacking.

Kelley-- I've volunteered for the "fun eye thing" at my kids' elementary school several times, and it amazes me how many kids need glasses! And I think multiple WIPs are incredibly helpful when it comes to MS sight. :)

Jenny-- Your story is HILARIOUS!

DRC-- I always wear contacts when I'm at the computer, because glasses give me a headache there, too!

Abby-- So maybe it's a good thing to go to the bathroom and cry about your ms, because then you can face the changes better. :)

Allison-- I love that you even remember which movie it was! A testimony to how life-changing good eyesight is.

Carrie-- Hahahahahahaha! That's hilarious! Not only the fact that he thought it, but that he was willing to say it to you! Love it.

Lan-- I know, right?! And only one eye being bad? I've lost a contact a time or two before, and had to go several hours wearing just one. It gave me the worst headaches! I bet your eyes were so relieved to have both finally pulling their weight.

LisaAnn- You're welcome. And I love your analogy!

Alleged Author said...

Great comparison! No matter how long I am away from the WIP, I cannot see. This is why I have CPs. They need to critique because I am unable to do so (emotionally invested). Stellar post!

Francesca Zappia said...

Oh my God, I know exactly what you mean! About the writing, and the glasses, lol. The first time I got a legit pair of glasses, we were driving home, and I could see LEAVES. On TREES.

It was magical.

By the way--I've given you some awards! They're over at my blog. :D

Francesca Zappia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alexis Bass said...

Loved this!! As a fellow legally blind person, I can totally relate to this. :)

Peggy Eddleman said...

Alleged-- I think emotionally invested is a really good thing! Which, by extension, makes critique partners a REALLY GOOD THING. :)

Francesca-- Leaves on trees! I remember seeing that clearly for the first time! You're right. Totally magical.

And thanks for the awards!! That is so VERY sweet. I am very flattered.

Alexis-- Thanks, fellow legally blind person! :)