Examining the Reflection

Matilda Butler, ABC's of Writing, Post #4

Earlier today I was talking with Kendra about the new Writing in Five video that I'd just finished. After describing my insight from Natalie Goldberg's Old Friend from Far Away about the importance in memoir to reflect rather than recount, Kendra remembered something that her mother had told her.

4_make_up Kendra's mother was a commercial artist and taught both her daughters many of the techniques that artists use. Some of these techniques were basic like use of rubber cement. Others seemed esoteric at the time. One of these techniques was the use of a mirror to more carefully examine a work than is possible by just looking at it. 

As she explained this to Kendra, the mirror can make it difficult to put on eye shadow or position a hat or level a hair bow because the left and right are reversed. In compensating for the mirror, the brain is forced to examine the image in an active manner. In other words, the auto-pilot doesn't function. Her mother said that artists sometimes hold their work up to the mirror as a way to give it a fresh look so they can see what else is needed or if they have achieved their goal.

Similarly, it seems that the writer needs a way to move beyond the way we usually look at our lives. We know so many of the facts that we can often get stuck in recounting them. If we can find the equivalent of holding our work up to a mirror, then we'll realize that the reflection may be showing us something new.

I invite you to view my latest video.

2 responses to “Examining the Reflection

  1. I always think our mirrors are each other. When we see our work through others’ eyes, especially other writers, we understand better what is and isn’t working, and can make the necessary changes.

  2. Matilda and Kendra,
    Good tip. As we reflect on our lives in writing they are reflected back to us, through us, and–as Amber says–our audience & readers.

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