In management courses, they used to be fond of showing folks a sketch of the face of an old crone. You were told to look very hard at it, and if you did, you eventually saw that instead of a wizened face, the lines on the page depicted a stylish young woman wearing a becoming hat. Or maybe you saw the young woman first, and had to look hard for the crone.
The point is, you were learning a lesson, we were told, about perspective, about seeing what was before you through a different lens. It’s a great skill to master, if you can train yourself to do it.
See the frame on this mirror?
It used to be gold. Bought it years ago to adorn a bedroom wall, which it dutifully did for decades. But it got displaced. Its bedroom got sold out from under it, poor thing, and it found itself turned sidewise and stored, neglected, in a corner of the new digs, where it couldn’t seem to find a place for itself. New bedroom? Not enough wall space. And the wrong colour. Dining room? A bit heavy. And the wrong colour. Living room? Wrong style…and wrong colour. Hallway? Lots of space. Wrong colour. Hm.
Once you can nail down what’s just not working in a piece you’ve written, it, too, becomes a much easier problem to fix. First, leave it alone. Don’t look at it for a few days. Going back to it with fresh eyes often helps you spot what’s out of whack. And then, apply a new lens. Maybe you’re telling it from the wrong point of view? If it’s in a female perspective, try a male. If from an adult’s viewpoint, try a child’s. If it’s passive, make it active. Maybe the language isn’t appropriate for the story. Too flowery? Too simple? Too vulgar? Too proper?
Turns out my mirror needed to be silver. Check it out. Now it fits right in!
Has a change in perspective helped you turn something around? Please share!