How (in) Accurately We See Our Work

One of the biggest things I’ve realized over the course of my drum corps adventures is that I have a very inaccurate sense of what my body’s doing when it comes to learning flag work. In slow motion, I have excellent body control, so I’m fine in yoga, workout classes, weights, etc. But the speed and the unfamiliarity of spinning flags and running through drill make flagwork so tough for me! Staff will show us a move, and I’ll do it. But it turns out I only think I’m doing it. Really, I’m doing my feet differently, or my hands, or my flag, or something. They’ll correct me, and I could swear I was already doing what they’re saying I need to do. It’s so messed up! Often, it’s not until I can see it on video later that I really see what they mean and can try to correct it.

Photo: Jessica Hammond — Saturday was Ke$ha day for the color guard. Animal prints, fishnets, and glitter
galore. I stuck with just glitter eyeshadow:>)

Sometimes in the course of working with beginning writers, I’ll ask them to try changing some aspect of their manuscript. I’ll be very concrete and specific and they’ll revise it.

And the aspect I’ve asked that they focus on is not any better the next time around! I’m always patient, because all writers deserve that. But I’ve been puzzled. How can they not see that they still have way too much description–they just changed what they are describing? (Or whatever aspect of their manuscript we’re talking about.) Now I get it. Their manuscript awareness is as bad as my flag-spinning awareness.

That doesn’t mean it’s hopeless, though! Focusing on small, very specific changes can produce progress. Going through the same segment (or manuscript) many, many times will be helpful. Writers with a really accurate manuscript perception might be able to revise much more quickly or incorporate new techniques easily into their next manuscript. Others may have to take a more painstaking approach and work a lot harder at it.

But if you end up with a great manuscript (or a decent drum corps show performance), the reader (audience) won’t know it was 10 times harder for you than for anyone else. Which I guess, in the end, is an encouraging thing.

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