Friday 30 August 2019

Stages of Receiving Feedback - by Tamsin Cooke

I’ve been thinking about my reactions to receiving feedback.  Recently I handed a manuscript over to my agent. I was filled with such hope and excitement … until I received her thoughts!

Now I want to make it clear that I trust my agent completely. She is incredibly warm, generous and most importantly honest when she reviews my work. And for this I am utterly grateful … 
but perhaps not straight away.
So I thought I would share the stages I go through. (This also applies to receiving feedback from editors.)

Prior to receiving feedback I am in a state of Hopeful euphoria.
I know my agent will love it. She hasn’t quite got back to me yet because she’s making each page into wallpaper for her living room.  Or she hasn’t got to me yet because nothing needs altering. Right now she is contacting every publisher she knows, and a huge bidding war is a about to start!!!
OK, maybe not exactly this. But I definitely hope that my agent will love it. After all I’ve been working on it for months and I think it’s the best it can possibly be.  

During this time, I am constantly refreshing my email. And yes, I am driving myself mad.  At last her email arrives and:

I read and reread the email in dumbfounded silence. The words aren’t quite computing. 

This is quickly followed by Denial
What does she know???
How can she not have spotted the genius in the manuscript?
She obviously hasn’t read between the lines to see the inner conflict …

This is followed even quicker by Panic
She’s right. She’s absolutely right!
The whole thing is awful. Why am I even a writer? I should give up now. At the very least I should throw this story into the bin, never to see the light of day again.

A little bit of time occurs before the next stage.  Often chocolate, jellybeans and gin have been consumed.

Someone I trust deeply has read my story and she has my best interests at heart.  And she does in fact love lots about it. I have only been concentrating on the negative. And when I dig deeper into the negative, she has a point. I begin to see where my agent is coming from. 

A-   Yes, admittedly my protagonist doesn’t really grow that much. 
B-   Ah, that might be a gaping plot hole.
C-   Yes, I did forget about that secondary character. 
D-  Ok that wonderful scene that I adore more than anything is in fact a red herring and has added nothing to my story

This stage can also incorporate FEAR as I am now stuck in plot hole Hell… What can I do???? Will I ever get out? Plus SADNESS. Yes, it’s true. I have to kill off my beloved character.

Then I get to my favourite stage:
Now that I’ve take everything on board, and I have thought about what she’s really saying, my brain starts firing with all these different ideas and possibilities. I know how to fix these problems. I can see the direction my story needs to take.

And I can’t wait to get going again.

Receiving feedback can be hard. But if you trust the person, and know that they want to get the best out of you, it can be the most rewarding experience - especially when you edit your story and you know that this draft is the best it could ever be. You just hope your agent agrees when you resend it to her in a state of Euphoric hope

Tamsin Cooke
Author of The Scarlet Files Series and Stunt Double Series


Joan Lennon said...

I recognise everything in your post absolutely!

Pippa Goodhart said...

Oh, those feelings are all SO familiar!

Tamsin Cooke said...

Thank you Joan and Pippa. : )

Claire Fayers said...

Yes, happens to me every single time.

Nick Garlick said...

Perfect description of my thoughts.

Lucy Rowland said...

Yep...I 100 percent agree with this!

Tamsin Cooke said...

Thank you Claire, Nick and Lucy. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who goes through such a range of emotions!!!