A Moment in My Life – Friday, September 4, 2020
I have been living my dream—the writer’s life for the last few months. I can’t wait to hit the keys each day. It’s a dream in itself to love what you’re doing. It’s not always fun and games, though. I dread the nerve-wracking moments of what to write and whether I could pull it off. I’m not fond of losing sleep, flushing out story ideas either. In the end, it was worth it because I met my deadlines.
Once I created a writing structure and posting on my site, I found a purpose to my day with self-imposed goals to accomplish. It’s a celebration at the end of the week, knowing that I succeeded in my plans.
Collecting gratification along the way didn’t hurt. It’s not a right but a privilege and is always welcomed and appreciated but not expected. Who doesn’t want praise? What makes it a commodity is that only a few would state their take on your work. Whether they enjoyed it or not is inconsequential. They read. They move on—end of story. I used to gravitate towards thinking ‘they hated it,’ but I realized that’s the wrong attitude because I don’t know that for sure. Over time, I learned I was right not to jump to conclusions. A few readers privately commented that they enjoyed my writing, but they never commented on my post. Not a problem. I appreciate their telling me just the same.
Getting feedback, whether good or bad, is nice and helpful, respectively. Positive feedback motivates me to keep doing what I’m doing. However useful it may be, negative feedback, regardless of the delivery and extremes, can be hard to swallow. Who wants to hear negative feedback? I expressed my displeasure when the newsletter editor for a column I wrote years ago edited my article. The head guy told me I needed to get a thicker skin. Ouch! He could use a crash course in Bedside Manner 101, but there was value in his advice. The problem is, I wear my feelings on my sleeve. No thicker skin armor can protect that area. All I could do is wear my armor and hope for the best.
I have been cruising down the strip for weeks with my new column added to my weekly blog and story showcase. I couldn’t be happier. Everything was going as planned until earlier this week when I received feedback from Person A that I didn’t expect to hear.
Not often, but occasionally, someone would comment on my work, and it was always favorable. I have a close friend who knows me better than I know myself, who has my best interest at heart, and she is a fellow writer. She has, from time-to-time gently commented that a scene in my story didn’t work for her. I value her input. I consider her suggestions, and I may modify my work. Her specific edits are helpful and usually improves my story.
The recent feedback from Person A left me conflicted, unsure of myself and my abilities, and dampened my joy. It was more than a single comment on a particular story; thus, it was impactful. I get it if my fiction was the problem. Not that I like hearing that, but that would, somehow, be a more straightforward fix because I could brush up on my creative writing skills. However, as far as my blog and column go, she was disinterested because it’s my memoir. I never thought of it that way. I wrote what I wanted to write. Period. “Nobody wants to read what you have to say,” flashed off in my mind.
Person A commented on a short fiction piece that it started off engaging until midway when I lost her due to too much description, and it took too long to reach the end. Once she got there, she thought the ending was well done, and she liked it. I was surprised to hear her review because I loved that story and thought it was the right amount of details to bring it to life. I asked another friend, Person Z, who commented that she was right there with the protagonist throughout the story and enjoyed it. She said this story worked for her, as is, and she wouldn’t change a thing. What do you do with this? One says one thing, and the other says another.
I contemplated Person A’s comments as I pulled myself up from the ditch of self-doubt, one rung at a time. I know she means well, but I don’t think she is a short story reader. It sounds like she is used to reading novels—two very different species. My take on this is to consider her suggestions, and if it helps, then perhaps I will use it.
The bottom line is that if I were to ask a dozen people, I might get a dozen different opinions. Do I edit base upon each person’s take? I can’t please everyone. I can only do my best.
After starting my column, the line between my blog and column burred. Writing a daily column, a weekly blog, and a weekly short fiction is overwhelming. The good that arose from this conundrum caused me to reassess my game plan. I will take it slow while I figure out is it broke or not—what needs fixing and how to fix it.