Feedback

“I just don’t like Brittany. I didn’t connect with her at all. I didn’t care what happened to her.”

Feedback.

I’ve been thinking about this word a lot lately, and today, things kind of came to a head.

I went to a writers conference today and sat down with an agent who had critiqued the first 10 pages of If Only. I sent them ahead so she could read it and take notes and let me know what she thought.

I’ve never done that before. I’ve had so many people read the story, people I know and people I don’t. Obviously, it’s been out in the public for a while now, so many people I’ll never talk to have read it.

But I have never had an agent sit down and critique the story the way I had today.

I wanted feedback.

I need feedback.

But after listening to her speak, I came to a few conclusions.

Listening to someone pick apart your heart is soul is hard.

Writing is subjective.

I’m a really sensitive person.

When I sat down and began listening to her, I was happy that she felt my writing was well done. She commented on how I tend to be wordy, which is true. I think my students would tell you I like to talk. I guess I just have a lot to say.

However, sometimes less is more, and I get that. I’ll work on that.

She wasn’t even really upset that the novel begins with a rape scene. It’s jarring. It’s harsh. It’s intense.

She liked that.

I was happy. Things sounded like they were going well.

And then she punched me in the gut.

Okay, not literally, but you get the point.

“I just don’t like Brittany. I didn’t connect with her at all. I didn’t care what happened to her.”

I have heard people tell me that Brittany is cold. She’s harsh. She has too many walls. She’s a bitch.

I have also heard people tell me she is just like them. Guarded. Careful. Sensitive. Damaged.

I don’t always know how to handle criticism. I don’t always know how to be politically correct.

You see, each character comes from a part of me; even the villains.

Next to Jade, Brittany is probably the closest to me, to my personality, and her issues are my own.

For as much as I adore Tommy, Brittany is me. She came from my days of solitude; from my years of figuring out who I was. She was with me through college; through the ups and downs of life. She saw me through a few significant losses and she came to life when I needed her voice.

I know people aren’t always going to love my characters or my story. I know romance isn’t for everyone and certainly, the things I put my characters through can test any reader.

But her critique hurt.

She also had issues with the meeting in the conference room, and that really bothered me.

The conference room is so important to their story. It broke my heart that she didn’t see that.

I went through a few stages after walking out. I decided I was done writing. I figured nobody would ever want to read another word of this series. I was a loser. A fraud. A hack.

But then, I sat down and became aware of the many authors walking around the conference all around me and I did what so many writers do.

I observed.

So many writers. So many ideas. So many opinions. So many dreams.

So many possibilities.

My stories aren’t for everyone. I know that. I write because I have a story to tell, and I want people to feel like they can relate to the struggles so many feel.

I have dealt with issues each and every time I bring up having a romantic heroine with HIV, and I deal with it because that’s simply not all she is, and if people can’t get past it that says more about them then it does Brittany.

I have dealt with people not liking the sexual assault angle and I have defended my choices more than once.

But this was different.

It was like my child had come from school crying because nobody liked her.

I became defensive. I wanted to list off all of the amazing qualities Brittany has and how many people love her.

I wanted to tell her about her strength and tenacity and heart. I wanted to show her Naomi and Tramp and the beautiful relationship Brittany has with Tommy.

But all I could do was thank her for her time, and leave.

It’s up to the writer to tell the story the best way they can.

I’m still learning. I’ll always be learning.

Today was hard, but it was important.

Tomorrow I’ll write again.

2 thoughts on “Feedback

  1. Yes, other people’s opinions hurt. But there just that, their opinions. You have given many people enjoyment in the FBC series. So, take her opinions, they’re not about you personally. Take what’s positive. Review what’s negative. Then, keep writing. Can’t wait for next week.

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