Tuesday, July 19, 2005


I appreciate and value feedback.

Always have. I guess that's why I was always a teacher's pet, or an employee/colleague people tend to enjoy working with. I listen to feedback, both good and constructive, and decide what to use for future use. I'm secure about receiving feedback. Never defensive. Don't take things personally. (Don't like it when someone talks to me like I'm 5-years-old, but can handle those situations when they happen) Because I know it's the "work" that's being feedbacked, not my existence as a human being. I know some people have different views on feedback, take it in different ways, and I appreciate that.

I know that for every book, every movie, every television show, and every piece of art produced, there will be a million different ways the work is perceived. Two people can see the same thing/incident, and have two different stories to tell about it. That's a given. And that's the beauty of the human experience. One thing can be perceived in different ways... and all those perceptions can be "right" based on whatever has influenced the perceiver's point of view.

Got that. Cool. Fine. Dandy.

I like and appreciate reviews. Both good and constructive ones. It helps me see what people perceive about a piece of work... and hopefully, how that work is resonating in their life. Hopefully, the reviewer is thinking about how that work may or may not have meaning in their life, and explains in very thorough ways how that connect or disconnect happens for them personally.

And it also makes me wonder about where feedbackers and reviewers come from.

Are they closet writers, singers, artists, performers... and their work has never been published, recorded, displayed, or contracted for performance? Are they happy or unhappy with the state of their finished or unfinished work? How do their particular life experiences with race, class, weight and gender issues shape how they view work by people perceived to be like them or different from them? Are their views shaped by larger, political issues such as writing a positive review about one writer, singer, artist, performer so that the awards selection committee they serve on will reward with an award? Or do they snark at a work because they realize reviews can make or break others' perceptions, and they just don't want a work to succeed?

Just something I'm wondering about lately on the subject of feedback. What do you think?


Trent Jackson said...

...I'll email you about this on the side!! LOL

Rashid @ Old Gold Soul said...

This is an interesting post, Fred.

One of my favorite reviewers is Tom Shales of the Washington Post. He also co-wrote Live From New York, which is a book about the history of Saturday Night Live. I have a lot of respect for him not only because I value his opinions but because he's a television historian. (And I love television.)

Anyway....I don't think too much about the reviewers. Well, I don't read too much into it, I guess. Without delving too deeply into my trade secrets (lol) I definitely researched who my potential reviewers would be. I wasn't surprised by my positive or negative reviews. Yeah, I tend to dwell on them (especially those dreaded C+ reviews) but all in all, it was all good.

Then again, you have a much wider distribution than I do, so you are more likely to have people reviewing your novel that you didn't query yourself. So it's like....almost like getting reviews from people you didn't really "need" them from.

Does that make any sense at all?

I guess my point is that it takes all kinds to make a reviewer. Each of them thinks they're the shit, whether they are writers themselves or just critics.

I try to just go with the flow but do enough research into my reviewers where a bad one won't come as a huge surprise.

I dunno man. :-)

Rashid @ Old Gold Soul said...

Also, I don't think any reviewers are gunning for careers they can ruin. I really do think that in their heart of hearts, they are being helpful.

You're Long Beach Carpooler said...

Feedback is always good. I do believe however that you must look deeper into the words on paper or being spoken. Sometimes you need to know what the experiences are of those who critic. At the very least try to understand why one might think the way that they do. You might create new characters just from that.

I think reviewers cater to their own readers. They know what sort of things their readers will like due to demographics etc. So even though the books reviewed are diverse in subject matter, they may still be catering to the likes and dislikes of their readers to sell their column and keep the loyal readers loyal. Also I think whenever anyone reads a book, they take it personal and relate it to their own lives. Don't you?

You are doing something that many have never and will never do. You are making history that will live on long after you are gone. Be proud of that.

On another note: I'm Glad I Surprised You Pleasantly!

I hope to present you with many more pleasant surprises of all kinds in the future. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

eastcoastbrutha said...

This is indeed an interesting topic. Feedback is the thing we want and need in order to grow as writers, artists, or simply human beings. The problem is that the intent of much feedback is not constructive. The most important thing to consider when considering feedback or reviews of any kind is the source...obvious huh? Unfortunately it is a fact that some people have malicious intent, and then others simply are not providing feedback from the proper perspective. I think everyone can give feedback from their perspective, how the work affects them. When one goes beyond that, he is implying that he posseses the qualifications to review the work from other aspects, which is often not the case.

Now Fred, I am not a professional writer, but from my perspective, I just finished your book, and it was great. I could go on here, but I've used enough space.