As I said in my last post, I have been twisted around by several helpful critiques from several people in the know. Each one makes a lot of sense. Each brings some sense of the market for which I’m writing. Trouble is, they all disagree.
I have finally hit on the way I want Hack the Yak to read. What a relief! I think I’ve integrated some of the comments, but mainly, I can quit twisting and turning. I hope.
“They all disagree” offers some serious insight to the problem of peer (and publisher) criticism. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just that it’s rarely consistent. I was recently looking at a video that I shot of me performing one of my songs and the song circle responses (from a Steve Gillette Writer’s Workshop), and though the song was “liked,” a variety of conflicting suggestions emerged. I have played with a couple of suggestions, but so far they have not improved the original. However, they have encouraged me to continue to explore the song.
In the end, we have to be guided by our own instincts, and if the outside suggestions help us to hone those instincts, whether making clear to us those impulses with which we agree or those with which we disagree, the process can still be helpful.
Years ago, when I first began teaching Video Production, I took a week-long course at Sony in non-linear editing. The instructor made one very useful comment: “In video, you never really get finished. You just have to decide to stop.” I think the same probably applies to both fiction and essay writing. Considering a piece to be finished is nearly always a compromise between feeling that you have achieved a desired level of communication and artistry and knowing that you could still find things to change.
Good luck, John, on finding an eventual end to the twisting.