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!!!