Writing and Rambling

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Feedback Fun (Pt 1)

Posted by Dave on April 13, 2010

Well, another week come and gone, but hey, that’s another week closer to publication. Right? (Yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket! I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.) Sorry, just drifted off into a little self-encouragement, but we’ll talk about that a little later. Schedule’s been crazy, so I’m a little late on this post. Sorry about that.

Again, just one time to the track last week. Still haven’t been able to make the different family schedules work together. On the plus side, I did get four miles this time, even right after mowing the lawn, so I don’t feel so bad.

For all that I huff and puff around the track, though, I truly feel for my daughter. She’s on the seventh grade track team, a league softball team, and a league volleyball team. Thursday night, she had track practice right after school. After that, she went straight to softball practice. Then, after that she went straight to volleyball practice. Needless to say (why do people go on after that phrase if it really is needless to say? Hello, Captain Obvious!), she was one pooped peep by the end of the day. I, on the other hand, would’ve been a corpse, or at the very least, in the E.R.

Now, before you get the idea that we’re the type of parents that push their kids into everything, that’s not the case. She wanted to do all three. We’ve never told our kids they had to do everything, and we’ve never told them they had to be the best. What we have told them is that IF they’re going to do something, we expect them to TRY their best. If it’s not good enough to win, oh well. Try again next time. Just as long as they give it their very best shot each time, we’re okay with the results.

Now, back to that encouragement thing…

Fiction writers do what we do because we like to tell stories (bonus if we get paid for it). At some point in time, if we ever plan on being published, we have to let other people see those stories. When other people read our stories, we generally expect some sort of feedback.

Now, not all feedback is created equal. There’s “yes, grandma, I know I’m your favorite author, but I don’t think I’m as good as Hemingway just yet.” And there’s “Wow, after reading that critique, I think I’m going to quit writing and just go sob in a corner for about a year.”

As writers, we have to be ready to get the harsh critiques. Let’s face it; not everyone is going to like our stuff. Writers have to have a thick skin if they want to survive, especially beginning writers who are still learning the craft. Lots of mistakes will be made, with lots of people more than willing to point out each and every one. But just because someone doesn’t like what we’ve written doesn’t mean it’s not good. And, on the flip side, just because someone does like it, doesn’t mean it is.

We have to consider the source (i.e. grandma may not be exactly impartial), and the tone of the critique. By tone, I mean how it is presented. Some critiques sound like they were written by someone who just got home from a crappy day at work and couldn’t find the dog to kick. I generally tend to ignore those.

The critiques I do listen to are the ones that point out issues that need work, but that do so in a way that lets me know that the reviewer is really trying to help me improve. I know I have a ways to go before I’m an “accomplished” writer (whatever that may be), and I actually appreciate it when someone pointing out my mistakes, as long as I’m fairly sure they’re trying to help me improve and not just venting because of something that has nothing to do with me or my writing.

I’ve got more to say on the subject, but I don’t want to make this too long. The next post will take a look at how to give and how to receive feedback, especially when it involves family and friends.

Have a good one!

What do you do if your reality check bounces?


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