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The eyegrease phenomenon

I was reading through the blog of U.K. author Kit Whitfield ( whose debut book Benighted recently was released in the U.S. Benighted is the story of a woman who lives in a world similar to ours…except in her world, the majority of the human population is lycanthropic. Werewolves. The minority who don’t get furred up during the moon cycles are called “barebacks,” and have to deal with all manners of scorn, prejudice, and brutality. It’s an incredible read, so pick it up today.

Anyways, in reading her blog, she has an interesting collection of terms that define issues repeatedly seen throughout fiction. ( Check it out, because it’s both funny and enlightening for readers and writers. In it you will find a term known as “eyegrease.” Here’s her definition:

“A thin layer of which is added every time you reread your work. After a while, there’s so much Eyegrease on every word that your eyes skid all over the page, taking practically nothing in.”

I see this a lot not only in editing my writing, but in my job as well, since I do a lot of copy-editing and proofreading. I read over something about twenty times and think it’s perfect, only to have my boss come over and tap on my printout saying, “What’s with this extra comma?” The only cure for eyegrease is giving yourself some distance from the piece that needs editing until your brain forgets what it was looking for in the first place, or to hand it over to someone else who has yet to become familiar with the words.

So there’s my tip for today. Don’t forget to sit back from the page every so often and let your eyes relax. Take off the glasses, give yourself an eyeball massage if you have to, and maybe stare out that window at that pretty yellow shiny stuff outside. Oh, yeah. It’s called sunshine. I forgot.

I see that smile.

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