Thursday, July 10, 2008

Feedback

by Stephanie Abney

We had a wonderful ANWA chapter meeting at my home last night and it got me thinking about “feedback.” Are giving critiques and giving feedback the same thing? Maybe, but today I’m liking the sound of “feedback” better so that’s what I’m going with.

However, I didn’t like the definitions of “feedback” I found in the dictionary so I’m going to make up my own. The word “feed” means “to nourish” and “back” would be “giving back.” So, the way I see it, when we give feedback to each other as writers, we are offering something to nourish, to help our manuscripts grow and to give back to each other as a thank-you for what has been given to us.

As I said in my first post ever to this blog, I’m kind of a word-nerd ~ love ‘em, love ‘em and I'm always looking up definitions of words. I REALLY loved the definitions I found for “nourish,” all three of these are awesome: 1. to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth. 2. to cherish, foster, keep alive, etc. 3. to strengthen, build up, or promote. And that’s exactly what our feedback can do for each other.

Writing is not for the faint of heart or those easily discouraged because by its very nature, it requires criticism. So WHY do it? I think we all write because we can’t NOT write. There is something so internal, so personal, even spiritual, regardless of our genre, which continually begs to be set free that we can’t help but write. And once we do, we become vulnerable. Yet we do it anyway. So, let’s strive to sustain each other, supply what is necessary for growth, to cherish, foster, and help keep alive each other’s dreams.

What we all should remember is that sometimes, just like an overgrown tree, the most caring thing that we can do is to prune, shape and trim down our work. The most important thing about sharing feedback is that it is useful, sensitive and only the type of feedback the writer has asked for. Sometimes, we just want to share and don’t want anyone pointing anything out. That’s okay, but it’s the writer’s job to let the rest of us know that when something is presented in a group or online. If we are clear about how much and what kind of feedback we are looking for and if those giving the feedback stay within those parameters, we have a win-win situation.

Feedback is a very valuable tool. We learn to be better writers by writing more, but evaluation along the path is crucial. When feedback is accepted in the spirit in which it was given, we can make changes that will improve our finished work. By following this process over and over, it finally evolves into that precious written word that could change someone’s life, lighten their load, give them hope, cause them to reflect or maybe give them a much needed belly-laugh.

So, sisters, go forth and do what LDS women do best … feed something!!!

9 comments:

  1. Stephanie,you said it beautifully!! There IS something yearning inside that pushes me and those I know to write despite the blood, sweat, tears, and heartache that inevitably comes with it. How blessed we sisters are to have each other...and on a more personal note, how blessed we are to have YOU.

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  2. What a sweet thing to say, Shawnette. Thank you!! I'm so glad you are in OUR chapter of ANWA because you are an absolute delight to be around. And I can't wait for your book to get published.

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  3. I can't remember how I did this to have my name show. That Amen was frm me. Terry Deighton

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  4. Actually Stephanie years ago I was given a regular King James version of the Bible before I joined the churh. In the back, it had some daily prayers to say. One has stuck in my mind forever: help me to say the right words the right way. You're not the only word nerd out here. And the words you use and the way you use them make a huge difference.

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  5. "Feedback"...I love that word much better than "Critique", with all the negative connotations the latter sometimes carries. Maybe we should change ANWACritique to ANWAFeedback?

    Wonderful post, Stephanie! Thanks for sharing these meaningful insights!

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  6. thanks for your insights. they reflected a lot of what I wanted to say in my post a couple of weeks ago on critique.
    Margaret

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  7. Thanks, Stephanie! You've set my mind in motion. I've seen children that crave positive feedback and attention and thrive when they get it. I don't think adults are much different in that area.

    I, too, love words. My favorite word at this time is "resonance."

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  8. What else is a writer if not a 'word nerd'? How often do we agonize ove finding exactly the right word to convey the nuances that will transmit with accuracy what we really want to say. (Well, I should ponder more here to get it right.) I was taught somewhere along the line -- perhaps at an English class at ASU -- that critique or criticize originally meant to look at something from all angles, and was not derogatory to begin with. But I just used my most trusted dictionary from RD, and decided the term had definitely degenerated into being adverse, faul-finding, etc. I then looked up 'feed-back' and enjoyed even more your own definition.
    Yea for positive, humane examination and sharing.

    (I just simply must reply, though it's been so long I really doubt that a single soul will read it, or care. Or am I not the only one who has to go back a long way to catch up?)

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