I’ve been reminded that writing clear prose is not as easy as it seems. Not one of the instruction manuals/pamphlets/emails that I’ve suffered through in the last few weeks has been as precise as I would have liked. I’m certain the writers thought they were being precise. They know what they mean, and how their systems/devices work, and if people don’t understand they need to pay more attention.
Readers deserve better, even if (especially if?) all they have to deal with is a two-page instruction pamphlet. My critique partners are more than willing to point out the holes in my prose – when I’ve used a word that isn’t exactly what I meant, when what I thought was on the page was still lurking in my mind, when the logic of my plot structure crumbles. Working with them has made me a better writer, and has made me more willing to scrap my clever little paragraphs if it turns out I was being too clever for my own good. There is tremendous value in finding someone willing to look you in the eye and ask, “Is that really what you meant to write?”
Luck and wisdom!