IF FOUND, RETURN TO ASTROPOP – Fan art by Crystal Smalls Ord
Feedback comes in many forms.
From a “ZOMG! Take my money! I want to buy that right NOW!” spurred by a one-sentence pitch, to a meh or shrug or turned-up nose of disinterest, to a gushing Tweet, to comments from a CP saying, “Yeah, something’s totally broken in this section… What if you…” or “WHY ARE YOU MAKING ME CRY RIGHT NOW, LUCAS?!”. And a million shades in between.
Even silence is feedback.
Obviously, praise feels good. (Thanks, Cpt Obvious.) ((You’re welcome!)) Some readers heap it on. It’s who they are, in their nature. And thank the gods these readers swoop in to rub a little balm on the inevitable burns. Other readers are boss at finding tiny inconsistencies between something mentioned briefly on page 7 and then again in chapter 28. Some focus on big picture stuff, or characterization, or plot threads, or every.single.missing.comma, or dialogue, or a name that changes spelling partway through, or the lovey-dovey parts.
All of these amazingly varied types of feedback are helpful, needed, and appreciated.
Individually, they’re golden. Together, they help transform a manuscript into a book.
This feedback leads to lovers.
And, yes, sometimes, a feedback-giver doesn’t “get it”. Your voice, style, rhythm, a character. Your words are simply not their thang. Or they have a tough time divorcing their own style from yours and try to insert their personal quirks, voice, and preferences. And (Okay! Fine, I’ll take one for the team and say it out loud! Because a lot of times it’s something we feel like we shouldn’t say. Out of fear of sounding wounded, or thinking too highly of our own words, or because we’re big, fat, fearful chickens.) every now and then, there is the unmistakable taint of jealousy and/or bitterness.
That’s okay, too.
Because, in the end, the writer must weigh every bit of feedback. We make decisions. We place value on each suggestion. We pop them on the scale of our vision for our story and see which way it tips. “Shit, that hurts, like mad, but I need it” or “Okay, yeah, that’s not useful” or “Hmmm…interesting…good point” and the coveted “YES OMG PERFECT SUGGESTION THIS PERSON IS BASICALLY A GENIUS”.
As long as we’re not stubborn jerks, as long as we’re open to learn and bend and stretch, each suggestion (and our resulting decision) helps our story grow stronger.
That’s the ultimate point of feedback, right? Not to have people gush for gushing’s sake, but because the story resonates. Not to stroke our egos, but to kick us in the nearsighted ass and make us see things we’re myopic about.
If our end goal is for our words to make it into the great big world, that goal begins with an idea. That idea becomes a manuscript, which becomes a book. That can be an amazing book or a sorry-excuse for one. The difference, I believe, happens through the process of seeking, receiving, weighing, and incorporating feedback.
Think about how magical this is: We can actually transform the raw material of feedback into gold.
We’re like a team of alchemists and shit.
Feedback into gold.
Books into feelings.
Strangers into lovers.
Improvement. Solidity. Marketability. Beauty. Resonance.
Those are the things which will help our stories make it beyond behind-the-scenes-readers to the great big world. And that great big world contains the same mix of disinterest, haters, and passionate lovers.
Feedback is, I truly believe, the path that leads us to those future, passionate lovers.
Sometimes, in addition to feedback-in-words, there’s even feedback-in-images. (Ahhhh!)
The AMAZING illustration opening this post is fan art that If Found, Return To Astropop inspired in a reader. That reader, who is also a writer and illustrator, is the phenomenal Crystal Smalls Ord. I can’t really share much of Astro with you lovelies quite yet, but I’m thrilled to be able to share Smalls’s interpretation.
(She made sure I pointed out that the image only exists because Astro & Pip’s story inspired her that much. :: blushes profusely ::)
If you dig it, let Smalls know, check out her other work, and show her some love.
Deviant Art: http://csmalls.daportfolio.com/