What We Talk About When We Talk About What We Talk About

Take. ALL my loves, my love. YEA. Takethemall. (In my delirium, I am having to fight to stop reciting that sonnet in entirety. For you see – I am hot. And I like it not.)

I was going to write about feedback. But I really don’t want to now. All the world seems wrong when I’m overheated.

It's Too Darn Hot!

(Four hours later.)

No, I wasn’t kidding. And I’m now lounging in the empty bathtub, wondering why I didn’t think of this before.  So feedback. Blerg.

I know from wildly entertaining blogs, blog comments on agent blogs and real life eavesdropping that there are people who disregard the slightest criticism, seemingly based on the fact that the writer’s mother/husband/boyfriend told them they have talent. Well, we’ve all seen some measure of the American Idol try-outs (either on our own volition or by the evil of a family member – I’m looking at you, Anastasia) and we have seared into our memories how wrong loved ones can be. And how criminal it is to encourage certain people. O_O

Then of course there are people who don’t trust any feedback that isn’t negative. (Negative, of course, being synonymous with critical because who has ever truly investigated their feelings/responses to something only to find that they loved it? Apparently, no one.) These are the people who – if you say that you enjoyed something – insist that you “tell the truth”. That gets old. Huh, Josh?

This is just stating the obvious but what it comes down to, most often, is the source. Not whether or not the praise came from your mom, but who you know your mom to be. I’d still laugh if someone wrote it in a query – well, praise from anyone in a query seems useless…if they were important enough and impressed enough…the query would not be happening – but in my own life, I’ve realized that I’ve seemingly shrugged off praise from my inner circle based on them being my inner circle. Which is silly. Not to say a liberal arts education makes someone informed about the publishing industry – but then I’m not going to them to see if something will sell… that’s what psychics are for – but knowing their academic history certainly means something to me. My siamese twin, for instance, (who cannot be linked because she’s allergic to technology and social media) is a pantheon among my IB peers. Anyone who took IB English 4 with Mr. Roberts (only to find that we would spend the rest of our lives searching for an experience to rival it and likeminded individuals with whom to dissect literature) will respect her perfect exam score. When she tells me she likes something – and tells me exactly why (because hi, that’s the only way to validate such a claim) – my knee jerk reaction should not be to disregard it. Particularly considering the time I threw my head back and laughed and – in mixed company – she advised me never to make that face again…. Love that girl.

And then there’s the criticism. And I’m not talking about the writer-friend, loved one or critique partner who lets you know up front, I don’t even like this genre – I’m talking about the agent who actually gives feedback in a completely personalized rejection letter. (Shout out to Amanda.) Or any other professional, confidante, whomever whose experience or reputation or sensibilities led you to seek their opinion in the first place. (Because there’s nothing uglier than soliciting feedback only to flippantly and loudly reject it as though you never cared in the first place.) First, turn your entire body to shield your baby from the onslaught. Squeeze your eyes shut like the world is exploding around you (because it is.) And then – at least in this case – remember the time someone swooned over this project and you were nearly offended, wondering whether they thought it was the best you could do. Whoops. Reread the letter later and remember the times you journaled about whether or not this was an issue. (Thanks, confirmation.) People tell you never to query before you’re ready. That advice makes sense upfront. But then you consider the number of books that go out to editors on submission and need a good deal of work. The agent and the author obviously thought the book was ready. The point is sometimes you (and another set of eyes) didn’t know what you didn’t know. (Unless you had read that journal entry.)

Wow. So. I’m sure I’ve missed something I meant to say – always happens when I have a nice length entry and my brain is satisfied. It knows what I meant and it tells me it got it all and then I read it later and yeah, it didn’t. Way to go, brain.


11 thoughts on “What We Talk About When We Talk About What We Talk About

  1. In your defense, you have been taking my comments on this last project better than all of the previous ones. Maybe its because of the genre, maybe its because you are just delirious from the heat and humidity.


  2. Urg feedback. I love it when people make thoughtful suggestions, but can’t help but sometimes still think that they are wrong.

    Perhaps I am vain. This distresses me somewhat. But my MS is chucked in the corner collecting dust. Which hurts.

    But fluffy praise-only feels useless.

    Ugh. Feedback. Can’t decide how I feel about it.


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