Sunday, November 23, 2014

830, 829

Yesterday was a bit of a downer.

There's a bunch of us that meets periodically to discuss our writing - whatever we do of it - and throw around ideas. Although I really like the group, the last few weeks I was hoping for extensive feedback on my work. A critique. Something more than a nod or a 'Nice'. I suppose it is hard to give feedback to someone sitting directly opposite you...but we had met a few times and I thought we were in a place where we could comment on each other's work substantially - especially mine. What surprised me was a defensiveness or an unwillingness from the group when I asked for it. It annoyed me. Until I figured out that no feedback is a kind of feedback itself. My material didn't connect. And that somehow seemed worse.

There was someone in the group who thought that I was basically looking for people to say they liked my work. That I found a little irksome. I have been writing for a really long time. I do it for a living. I get feedback all the time - many times scathing. And I have not let it affect me. In fact, if there was any area of my life that I have been very sure about, it has been my writing. Not that it will always be good but that it will always be earnest. And most times, something good will come out of it. Yes, I like praise and don't like flak. When someone says something bad about my work, I breathe and mentally raise a middle finger. Because here's the thing. Most people give unsolicited advice. Most people who give unsolicited advice on my writing do not seem to write enough. They do not seem to read enough. They usually haven't demonstrated the discipline of actually writing something and sharing their own work. Most people who give unsolicited advice on my writing are weak and do not know what they are talking about. If the advice is favourable, there is some semblance of good taste. If the advice is unfavourable, there is no indication of it.

I must also lay down, perhaps, that I am not often receptive to feedback about my writing. Unless I ask for it. I know that there is a tendency, even when one asks for feedback, to seek only praise. But I'm not like that when I actually put my work out there and say, "What do you think?" (In a blog I just put stuff out there. There is no follow up question, "What do you think?" Because frankly what you think I don't really care.) So when I do ask for feedback and I don't get it, it upsets me.

But in the walk from the coffee shop to the main road, I thought long and hard about why getting solicited feedback is tough when unsolicited feedback is easy. Because of the nature of request. Because when I ask someone to read my work and give feedback, I am asking for that person's time and his or her application of thought. Those are tough things to ask for - even of people who are part of a group that is designed to help writers. Also, I realise that my work isn't very easy to get. It doesn't have the snap and crackle of personality and pop. It's more mood and vibe and season. It, I suppose, is not easy to connect with unless you give it time. Unless you read it in private. Unless you read it without expecting to give a snap opinion of it immediately. Like a friend of mine told me - that the fact you write well is probably a given. But what you write may not be what the group wants to read. If that's the case, I either leave the group or write what they will respond to. It is not the world's responsibility to like what I do. It is not even their responsibility to be interested in what I do. I just have to figure out how much I ought to let it affect me.

And yesterday, it affected me a fair bit.

But today's a new day. I walked up a hill in the evening with a friend. We had an encounter with a beautiful Siberian husky who stared at us with Arctic blue eyes. We saw car lights get lit on the narrow strip of road, looking like red bits of plump jelly. Today I decided that I will finish what I started. It's not a book. It's a script. I am not familiar with the format. But I will get it done. Whether it gets read or made or appreciated or denounced - I. Will. Do. It.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for a few years now and this is my first comment to you. Simply because you reek of what you say, "Because frankly what you think I don't really care." You come across as someone who doesn't care about what others think and believe that people are beneath you. Your numerous posts suggest that you don't need any kind of approval. So, it's rather amusing that you say you want feedback. Feedback is to enable people to learn and grow, and take corrective measures as and when required. Some of the most advanced systems have a feedback loop integrated. However, nothing in your writing or your projection of yourself suggests that you need it. Again, this is simply because you come across as someone who believes they are always right.

You getting irked because someone thought that you wanted them to like your work shows how true that is. I would have liked to regularly comment on your blog and maybe even be blog-friends. But it just looks like you don't need it. Here you go talking about how not getting feedback has bothered you. I find that hilarious.

Anyway, that's that.

P.S.: There could be a post against me of how I touched a nerve there, but I won't be coming back to read anything. Sincere wishes with the script. You can do a great job. And I know that for a fact.

mukta raut said...

Thank you!

mona said...

M,
I am willing to fill those shoes.
Question is, do you want me to?

mukta raut said...

thank you mona. although I am not sure if the feedback will be genuine when the identity isn't. :-)

mona said...

Why? Send me an email to verify...

If you give a fuck... said...

I know exactly how it feels when unsolicited feedback comes a writer's way. Don't ask me how. But also because I know how it feels, I have figured my own way to deal with it...well, maybe not my own, "own" way...just a way. And now that I can deal with it a little better, I chide myself less when I find myself doling it out...

You so know what's coming!

First, I am going to tell you that I have been reading your blog for a few months. Which probably means I like how you write. As a whole. It did take time getting used to it, some pieces anyway. But it was always interesting enough, which is why I persevered effortlessly to the point that I like it now..."it" being the 'how' part.

For the 'what you write' part, I don't think there is any case for giving or receiving feedback. It is like me contesting what you feel. But if you don't mind me humoring you on what I think about what you write, read on.

I think you dissect details to the point where it doesn't stay pretty anymore. I can see what you try to do with the adjectives and it is charming at first. But for a regular reader, it can be a bit of a drag. Now why am I pointing the 'how you write' part in the 'what' section? Because your choice of topics to write on leaves you with very little room to connect on a subjective level, instead of an adjective one. Adjectives sound nice to read, but it is very difficult to keep picking on the reader's soul strings using only adjectives. You need deeper, touching ideas and thoughts for that. And in your writing, I get a whiff of that every now and then, but I don't see them being developed. Almost like you shy away from it, preferring instead to you slip into your comfort zone and describe that cloud or that blossom over two more lines. I'd be very interested in seeing you develop these thoughts in your writing. And you have, in some posts. Those are my favorite pieces.

Secondly, with your imagination, it would be amazing to see you write some real/neo-real narratives. For example, and for the record, I hate comparing writers, but when I read this piece here (http://readmeanything.com/?p=736), I couldn't help but wonder how you'd write this, if the same thoughts were to occur to you. Given your way with words and your ability to describe some really subtle aspects of life, I would be very interested in seeing you write about some real, deep, hard-hitting emotions that hit you, in addition to the minutiae that you dwell upon so often. Writing, to me, is several notches more beautiful if it makes me wonder about what the writer is really thinking when s/he wrote it.

PS: This is my unsolicited feedback on your blog. I trust there is probably other, different writing that you discuss with this group that you talk about. Everything I have said here might possibly turn out invalid, depending on how that writing is, although I'd wager that is improbable. In that event, however, please chuck this blurb into the bin, which is what you might be inclined to do anyway...

Also, you've questioned the credibility of those who give you unsolicited feedback. That has ad-hominem written all over it. As such, I won't bother you with a link to any of my writing. Feedback is feedback is feedback. Take it or chuck it. You don't get to qualify it as valid or invalid.

Good going!

mukta raut said...

:-)

Thank you for the feedback. And as for whether I get to decide whether it is valid or invalid...oh, but I get to. If there's anything I get to do with this feedback, I get to decide exactly that. So, sorry if you were hoping for some kind of effusive, unconditional acceptance of your opinion. Anyway, it took you time to write all this out and you didn't need to. So I appreciate it.

If you give a fuck... said...

Well, no. I wasn't expecting any effusive or unconditional acceptance at all. Hence the 'take it or chuck it' bit.

You fully get to decide what you feel about what I have to say. Short of validating or invalidating it, that is. It's not really a thin line. And it's not just semantics.

Anyway, didn't really intend to turn this into a whole thing...sorry if I did.

mukta raut said...

:-) no, you didn't turn it into a thing...i just don't agree with boundaries on what I can and cannot do with feedback I receive. But okay, we'll not belabor this point any further.