Don’t Drink the Toilet: Why we need another pair of eyes on our work
The other day I had a conversation with an extremely tired individual, m wife. After I mentioned to her that she looked tired, she looked me square in the eye and told me that she was going to go “drink the toilet,” first.
Come again? Drink the toilet? I asked for clarity (which is dangerous on its own without adding the tired part) and she looked at me as if I was insane. Then she realized what she had said out loud was not what she had meant. What she had meant to say was “I’m going to get a drink of water and then go to the bathroom before heading to bed.” Her brain had thought one thing, but her mouth had said another unbeknownst to her brain.
There were a few more moments of hilarity after that as the tired brain took over my wife’s mouth , but I’ll not delve into that further. I’ll save those funny moments just for me ;).
What it made me think of was how much authors/writers/ and others tend to run into a similar scenario. Often, we know what we mean to say, which makes our writing crystal clear to us. We think we’ve writing “I’m going to get a drink of water and then go to the bathroom,” but what we’ve really written down is “I’m going to drink the toilet.” While finding that in your manuscript later could potentially be hilarious, it’s probably not what you meant. However, even if you go back and re-read what you’ve written, you may not realize there’s something wrong with it. Your brain knows what you meant and quite often – especially in my case – will correct it as you read.
This is why we need another set of eyes. Editors, writing groups, alpha and beta readers are those second sets of eyes that can tell you when what you say and what you mean are two completely different things. It is an absolutely vital part of the writing process so you can avoid drinking the toilet.