Want feedback on a product you’ve created? Be careful what you wish for. I’m still reeling from some of the feedback I received just in the past three days on a short story and the first draft of my novel.
Anyone who writes as part of their job or as their total job (albeit in my situation unpaid work), knows that having another set of eyes is crucial. Having someone proofread my work rescued me more than once in my career. For example, it’s very easy to misspell ‘public’ as in ‘public schools’ by leaving out the ‘l’ and dramatically change the meaning of the word. This peeves superintendents and school board members alike.
There are times, however, when having so many extra eyes can overwhelm. Apparently, a mythological Greek character named Argus Panoptes had one hundred peepers. This week I felt like Mr. Panoptes was looking over my shoulder.
On Wednesday I spent two hours with my writing coach, during which time I felt like my protagonist and I were clients in a small group therapy session, the main difference being that we sat at a table not a couch. In response to the coach’s questions I described my character’s goals, relationships to other characters, and her feelings about this, that and the other thing. I left the session overwhelmed because the questions and my answers or lack of them led me down a path which forced me to recognize I had a lot more work to do, more than I would ever have dreamed of.
When I returned from that meeting four more eyes awaited me in the day’s mail. A short story I wrote for a contest came back with rating sheets completed by two judges. Not bad, but not great.
Today two more rating sheets arrived in the mail, these for the first twenty-seven pages of my novel submitted to the same contest, but in a different category. These last four eyes, with the following quotes, helped me end the week on an upbeat note: “I think you’ve done a really good job on your submission. I would encourage you to keep at this.” “The manuscript should have broad appeal. Yes, I would read more.”
Now all I have to do is rewrite the 325 pages the four eyes didn’t read and go a whole weekend without asking for feedback.