Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Onion As the Reading Metaphor Du Jour

This is the season for grading, for reading the projects of grad students and reading the revised articles that have been resubmitted, and one thing keeps coming to mind: all this stuff is like Shrek... who is like an onion.  They both have layers.

Huh?  When reading a second or third draft, I am often surprised to find stuff that I did not notice before.  Why?  Because these writing projects are like onions.  The outer layer covers up the next layer so one does not see the flaws or qualities of the inner layer when reading the first draft.  One is too busy focused on the bigger problems.  Only when those bigger problems are fixed (if the author revises sufficiently) does the next layer get revealed with its positive and negative stuff.  And then the author is told, if you fix this, you should be good to go.  But then you get the next draft and the third layer has problems that one did not notice before.

Or it could be that I don't read carefully enough.  But I do think there is a general challenge that it is simply hard to notice everything that might be problematic in a draft.  And, of course, the act of revising might mean that the inner good layer may get scarred by the revising process and become something different.

I was calling this the Rotten Onion problem, but since onions probably rot from the inside out, maybe not so appropriate.  Hmmm.

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