Reading Over the Shoulder: A Thing I Wrote While Writing With Friends at Poor Richards

Writers are over-the-shoulder readers. If there is a writer sitting next to another writer, odds are that one or the other will look over their compatriot’s shoulder and peek. There are millions of reasons for this.

First, most writers (the real ones) are readers. If words are on a page, then the words must be read. Otherwise, how do they live? If they sit still on the page, left behind by the writer who abandoned them, there is no oxygen to them. This is something writers understand, so they will read the words. 
Second, there is a certain level of competitiveness. We must make certain the words written by others are not inherently better than our own. I mean, do they (the person whose shoulder we’re reading over) know the proper use of whose
But mostly I think writers will read over your shoulder because of a distinct need to know. We’re nosy. We want to know the inner-most workings of a brain. 
We want to know what observation you’re making about the world. Did we miss something? 
We wonder what is so important to you that you need to get it on paper. We want to know what your handwriting looks like. We want to know how your type so fast that the words, these series of letters, appear so quickly and represent whole universes that didn’t exist until now. Just now. As the ink spilled from your pen, bringing something of order to the chaos of space. 

Exercises Writing Writing Thoughts

jenny maloney View All →

Jenny writes dark fiction that her mother hates. Her stories and essays have appeared in Across the Margin, Pantheon, Shimmer, Black Denim Lit, Skive, and others. When she’s not writing her own stuff, she’s reading mysteries for Criminal Element. When she’s not writing fiction or reviews, she’s writing/directing/performing/designing plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre.

1 Comment Leave a comment

  1. The only other writer I regularly write with is my daughter. And she flips out if she even *thinks* I'm looking over her shoulder! Sadly, I'm not sure my eyesight is up to over-the-shoulder peeking. When she squeals, “Don't look!” I answer, “I WISH I could read those words from here!”

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