feedback

I am a lucky writer. I am fortunate to have a great network of talented writers. Some of us check in weekly, I have coffee or lunch with others now and then and we compare notes, cheer each other on or offer consolation. It helps tremendously. Forget the lonely garret. No one is successful by themselves; while you have to put in the hours writing and develop the skill and craft of it, you need other people to help you keep going, to finish, to cheer your successes, to pick you up after the tenth or twentieth or fiftieth rejection, and to provide feedback on what you’ve written. This last can be a bit tricky. One of my mentors (and brilliant writer), Rob Roberge, said no story has been made worse by (good) editing, but a few of my compadres take issue with that. One writer recounted killing the soul of a story through editing and another mentioned the experience that I have also heard from painters – that sometimes going back to a painting to fix something just made it different, not necessarily better. So I quote a classmate, “sometimes the first draft is the only draft.”  I would add that you need either a tremendous amount of innate talent or years of work before you know whether a first draft is that good. And so we return to feedback. You need trustworthy people with some experience and it doesn’t hurt to have a paid professional editor who won’t spare your feelings. It can also be of help to have someone who is in a different field altogether look it over. If you are fortunate, they will be able to identify problem areas, but will leave it to you to figure out how to fix them. All that said, I recently received feedback on my prologue that was in direct opposition to what I heard from the editor who works with a prospective agent. At the end of the day, you have to go with your gut to strike that balance between being open and knowing what’s best for the work. Don’t forget, it’s your story, your book and your name will be on it. The editor read the entire book and advised me not to touch a word of the prologue. She wasn’t hesitant to tell me what needed to be cut or altered in other parts of the novel, I was willing and the book’s better for it. My gut says she’s right about the prologue. There will likely be other changes on the road to publication, but for now, it’s done.

For luck, I leave you with an Irish blessing:

May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow.
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.

Now go write!

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One thought on “feedback

  1. You make good points. Writing is far from a solitary art. The writing relationship is a special one, one in which both parties sharpen the other. One thing is certain, my writing is always stronger when I have a trusted friend reading it.

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