Congratulations! You are here.
Take a deep breath, and bask in your bravery for just one moment.
You are here.
Ready and willing to put your words, your creativity, a little bit of your soul on the line.
It is something.
Take it in.
Now, let’s get one thing straight. It isn’t going to get much easier from here. You’ll need a thick skin, but you can’t be a great artist with a thick skin. So you’ll fake it, instead. You’ll weather the blows. You’ll develop mindful mantras like, “Eyes on your own page." "It’s not personal.”
But, of course, it always is.
So, instead, you’ll take solace in learning that we all feel this way. No matter how accomplished. No matter how experienced. We lay ourselves bare for all the world to judge, to hate or love, when we put words on the page for others to read.
But until we get to that point, writing tends to be a mostly solitary process. We write in a vacuum, and limit what we share. The good part of this is that there’s no one to judge us (but ourselves) until we are ready, until we hand the manuscript off to beta readers, or agents, or editors.
We buy ourselves time to be ready. . .
I don’t mean to break in here, Gae, but I think if I just tweak your words a tiny bit, the whole thing would sound so much better.
Delete some things here and there. I don’t really have any idea what you are trying to say...
On second thought maybe just delete this entire section.
Isn’t it more powerful if you end here?
Except, if you collaborate, that is.
And here she is in this photo --->
Cute! Isn't she?
[Nora, not to be a pain, but do you have to use red for your part? Red seems so angry. Maybe if you picked pink, or green or lavender. Lavender says, "I respect you." Red says, fuck off. Do it my way. . . does that make sense. . .?]
Nora and I just collaborated on a novel. And it was a pretty good precursor to all of this. Teachers Write stuff. Friday Feedback. And, remembering how fragile the writer's ego is. . .
Start to finish, it was an experience like no other. Exhilarating and painful, a constant ability to brainstorm and bounce ideas off another person, but also a constant feeling of being criticized, judged over the shoulder, having an editor from the get go, if you will. Often before the words were even ready for one.
But we realized too, that in no other field, no other endeavor…
[Nora, in no other endeavor, what? I’m stuck here. Can you jump in?]
Sure, but first, can you rewrite that last paragraph first, and move up that last sentence, or maybe down?… And, oh my god, did you really just use that cliche?
I know you know that any of my five thousand comments to your work are merely in “suggested mode.” So, don’t get your feelings hurt. And, you know, of course, you don’t have to accept any of them. . .
In no other endeavor is there the ability to insert ourselves -- as a third party -- into another person’s work. . . another person’s art.
Beta reader. Agent. Publisher. Editor. Consumer.
“I’m sorry, I can’t represent this.”
“Can’t buy it.”
“Would buy it if you’d just consider. . . Could the MC be an Asian girl instead of an Irish boy? And what do you think of making it set in an alternate universe?”
“I’m sorry, but this isn’t working.” “Who thought teens would even care about this subject?”
“Sorry, we just don’t have the shelf space at Barnes & Noble.”
Your first Goodreads review full of snarky gifs. . .
Your first Goodreads review full of snarky gifs. . .
Please, don’t try this at home - we’re professionals.
* * * * *
Where were we?
Oh, yeah. So we wrote this manuscript --
|Between THE MEMORY OF THINGS|
and NINE, TEN
and #nErDcamps galore,
the past year has been a bit of
the NorGae Show!
And we wrote the entire thing in one single Google doc. which allowed the other person to, not only, see our chapters before we had had a chance to edit or revise them ourselves, but sometimes to actually WATCH the other person typing.
In fact, we wrote our ending at the exact same time! Sometimes losing our cursor as the words shifted further down or further up depending on what the other one of us was typing.
We also left each other endless (sometimes 20 -25 a day) vox messages, FB messages, texts, and voicemails. We skyped and we talked on the phone. We were as close to being in each other’s minds as was possible. (spoiler alert: this process mimicked our characters in a way nothing else could have done)
And it nearly killed us. Okay, that kind of feels melodramatic. . . how about something like, "And it was really hard"? Besides, DO WE HAVE A POINT? WE NEED TO GET THE POINT OF THIS POST HERE, OR NO ONE IS GOING TO KEEP READING!!
But here’s the thing: We tested the boundaries in many ways, and dove into each other’s words and ego and heart and brain way before any of it was fully formed -- And, isn’t that what teachers do to students all the time, and then wonder why they so hate writing?
[Ah, there it was. I guess I just needed to be a bit more patient. . . ]
At the same time- We loved it. We ate it up.
We never wrote alone. We never had a thought or idea that we couldn’t share and expand on, brain storm, get excited about, or wonder if anyone else would like it or not.
We had immediate feedback.
Immediate gratification, even if that came at the risk of heartbreak.
It was exhilarating. And, terrifying!
I began my writing day at the crack of dawn. Gae would start later and write into the wee hours of the night. I’d go to bed knowing I’d wake up to the horror of slashed lines and comments and/or comments like: Brilliant. Love. Great!!
And that I would have the honor (and I mean that) to read the story that Gae left for me while I was sleeping.
* * * *
The truth is this was the risk/reward system we, as writers, all choose when we decide to put words on the page.
Because… now, wait for it. . . wait for it… that is what writing is -- It’s all about the Feedback.
The process of writing is not complete until someone reads it.
The process of writing is not complete until someone reads it. Unlike any other art form that can stand on its own -- A painting on a wall gets looked at. A dance performance gets watched. A piece of music is listened to.
But writing. . . writing needs an active participant. It needs the agreement of the reader to invest the time and WORK, often hours, sometimes days and weeks, of commitment. The words come out of your head, onto the paper, into someone else’s head, translated thusly, and out comes something else entirely. It is a shared experience.
Some might argue -- claim they only write for themselves. They journal (which is a whole different animal) or they don’t care what anyone else thinks of their work.
“I just write for myself.”
But I’m going to go out on a limb and say they are lying (even our reclusive Emily Dickinson shared her work and depended heavily on the praise of her beloved sister-in-law).
And this act of sharing? Well, ultimately. . .
Yes. That! And you are all here for Friday Feedback, for this reason. To share your words and feel the exhilaration.
You are scared, and you are brave; you are taking the risk because you crave that very intimate human connection.
It is both a higher and primal calling.
Nora and I both understand (now more than ever) the trust you put in the universe and us when you share your work here, when you truly allow yourself to be exposed and open to the judgement of another.
It’s scary as hell.
And it about the most exciting thing you can do while sitting in a chair.
So, woo wee..here we go!
FRIDAY FEEDBACK SUMMER 2017.
IF YOU DON’T KNOW HOW IT WORKS & THE RULES WELL,
PLEASE STOP FIRST AND READ THEM HERE:
How does it work? Easy peasy:
Every week, I -- or one of my awesome guest authors -- will share a tiny bit of writing wisdom followed by an excerpt of our own ROUGH, UNPUBLISHED writing for your feedback. In return, we offer you the same opportunity: to share a brief excerpt in the comments for feedback from us -- AND from other campers!).
See? Simple and exciting. There are just a few RULES:
1. The Feedback should be specific and always be given in this order:
Please note the order of those. Here at Friday Feedback, our first goal is to be encouraging. We appreciate the gems in one another's writing before we offer up constructive criticism.
2. The excerpts should not exceed three (3) paragraphs, if long, five (5) paragraphs if mostly dialogue or otherwise short.
There may be 30 - 50 excerpts up here on a busy week for me and/or my guest authors to read. If you put up more than the requested length, we do not promise to read beyond the stated limits. You may post excerpts through Saturday and I will check in, but I do not require my guest authors to read past close of business Friday.
3. We ask you to remember this: there is only so much we can realistically glean from a brief excerpt out of context.
Friday Feedback is intended to be instructional and inspiring, but our feedback out of context of a full work, must always be taken as merely that. Your job here is to take in the information as you will. Keep what you like. Toss what you don't. In the end, you are the boss of your own writing.
4. You may be the recipient of one of my patented "Superspeed Flash Edits."
Okay, fine, they're not patented, whatever. Sometimes, if your excerpt lends itself to me doing one of these, I will do so: namely, zip through your piece editing for passive voice (where not intended) unneeded words, wrong punctuation, repetition, etc.
I will NOT edit your own unique voice or substantive writing. This is an exercise intended to demonstrate how revision/clean up/intentional writing can truly make our voices pop and shine. It is intended to make you aware of your writing and tics.
If you do NOT want to be the recipient of a Superspeed Flash Edit for any reason, please message me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, without further ado, here's a brief excerpt -- the opening -- of our collaborative book out on submission, currently titled THE CLARITY SISTERS OF LAUREL HAVEN!
We look forward to your feedback, and giving ours in the comments! And, FWIW, other than a few Beta readers and our agents, you are all the first to see it!
And, of course, please support Nora by adding her extraordinary books, NINE, TEN: A September 11 Story; RUBY ON THE OUTSIDE; ANYTHING BUT TYPICAL and others to your classrooms and libraries!
They say I am the stronger sister. The more talkative one, the more opinionated and outgoing, so how does that explain Leila grabbing the scissors off the bathroom sink and whacking at her hair, grabbing a fistful and just chopping it off like that?
And who left those scissors there anyway?
Everyone knows Baby Gene can reach the sink now.
“What in God’s name are you doing?” I say, but for some reason I don’t move to stop her. We are only a reflection after all. In the mirror, Leila is on the right and I am on the left, when in actuality it is the opposite. So I just stand there next to my sister and watch.
“Cutting my hair,” Leila answers with no affect whatsoever. She stares off past us in the mirror as a long curl of blonde hair falls onto the side of the sink, then slips to the floor, then another, and another. Something about her gaze makes me worry. She’s been acting off lately. Weird and distant. I worry the whole Seekers thing may be getting to her.
I should take the scissors, stop her before it’s too late, but of course, it’s already too late. Her face is already changing, right before my eyes and I feel my breath catch in the center of my chest.
Why are you doing this? Why do you want to?
“Relax, Gabby. It’s just hair,” Leila says, but as steady as is her hand, her voice shakes. She knows, too, that Grayson may be mad since it will probably interfere with his vision. “It grows back,” is all she adds.