What it’s like getting feedback

December 30, 2014

Something very unusual happened today–unusual enough that I decided to write about it! I happened to get feedback from two very different sources today, which is doubly odd since I rarely get feedback, and never unsolicited feedback. So, with that being said, I’m just a whirlwind of emotions at the moment and figured it’s a good time to comment on this aspect of writing.

Feedback is integral to the craft, but deciding which feedback to heed and which to ignore is almost an art itself! Today I received feedback from a library acquaintance and a judge from a contest I entered (and didn’t win), very different sources. Both were concerned about pacing and the balance of character’s alternating voices, but both were very impressed with Flora’s character and the balance of her girl and horse identities while she’s cursed, as well as the other characters coming alive and acting accordingly. (Side note: nobody likes Dagger! I will write an entry about this in the near future.) While it’s far too late to make huge changes to the story, it’s not too late to apply this feedback to what I’m currently working on in order to make subsequent stories a little better. That’s how it goes. As much as us “indie” writers want instant success, that’s not how it happens (normally). It’s a long road of taking what we can get when we get it, and doing as much writing and editing as we can in the mean time.

Do I regret publishing The Feast when I did? A little. Maybe delaying a month or two would’ve made a difference in the balance and pacing (which I felt wasn’t quite right at the time, but didn’t know how to fix), but probably not. Those kinds of issues take experience to resolve, experience which I simply don’t have yet because it takes years (a lifetime, really) to garner. For some writers, that’s enough to convince them to resist publishing anything for decades until they finally feel they’re getting it right. For me, there’s nothing like knowing I need to get better to motivate me to actually get better, because my career as a writer is on the line if I don’t. It’s the same with any career: doctors learn what they can from textbooks and theory before jumping in, but practice and experience are the best teachers for them.

The bottom line: it’s quite disheartening to get feedback you can’t apply to the actual work. But, since I’m the kind of person who believes positivity is largely generated from within, I’m going to roll with it and focus on the positive parts of the feedback while tucking away the suggestions for subsequent works. Note to future self: try to get much more feedback before publishing the next book, and let it marinate for a few months, minimum.

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