Posts Tagged ‘Feedback’

You may remember that a couple of weeks ago I started working on titles for poems, to get me going with a bit more focus.

I got a little sidetracked when one became more like a story plan, but it’s always a good exercise, with positive results.

Now I am working on the next phase; building up some draft poems to see which ones work, which ones I like, and which ones I want to take further.

There’s a degree of order in my process this time because of my desire to write about the world as it is now – and the last few weeks have given me more material than I want, frankly! – but I want to keep as open a mind as possible because writing often takes you in unexpected directions.

It’s important to let it too; in this set of work I want to take unexpected routes.  If I can surprise myself, maybe I will surprise my audience too.

I also want to challenge myself with this work. Last time I wrote a particularly politically-inspired poem it didn’t feel finished or complete enough when I first performed it.  I believe that was because it didn’t quite say what I intended.  This time around I need to eliminate that sense of incompleteness because all it does is saps my confidence.

So I am spending my writing energy from now until at least my holiday in May on getting these poems as good as I can, or at least beyond the first draft status!  From then onwards, let’s see what my audience think…

I will share a few of the unused titles over the next couple of weeks: they might not get my writing going but perhaps they will work for one of you 🙂

Happy writing,





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This week at writing group we were talking about feedback and critiques.  As the person responsible for making sure we cover these things, I took along a poem I wrote a couple of years ago so people could practice giving feedback without worrying whether they were offending someone.  

It’s a poem I’d forgotten about, to be honest; although I think it has a certain charm it’s not one I’ve revisited since June 2012 – and that was only the second draft!

Being able to listen to feedback and make it constructive for you is important, but that’s not the point of the post today.   No, what really struck me is that I haven’t looked back at old work for a long time.

Working on the woods novel, which is now in stasis, I spent a lot of time working through its inherent issues, and writing new pieces to keep me going.  What I didn’t do was revisit old folders of work.

I often work on old pieces, don’t get me wrong – but they’re the pieces I’ve finished and take to open mike nights or readings.  I amend them based on hearing them read out loud.  On the other hand, I haven’t looked back at my files of early, unfinished, drafts for a while.  I think that without really noticing, I just closed my mind to them.

So after having that blast from the past, after having a look at my old folders full of random lines, or articles, or early attempts at expressing myself, I am determined to write a whole new set based on those bits – a whole new set to go out and read for an audience.

I don’t write drafts just to forget them, and I don’t want that to be their fate.

In other news – We’ve got to Book 19 of the Best Novels list – The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins.  I saw this come up and read it this week, I’ll give you my impressions on Thursday.  I have come to the conclusion that I don’t really agree with this list though – or at least, if these books are really the best in the English language, then I don’t enjoy the best!

Also – as I was looking at the newspaper, I found this article about the deadly argument two friends had over the relative benefits of poetry and prose.  I thought I’d share it to remind us all to keep things in perspective – and to say I think both poetry and prose are fabulous!

And finally – I was watching a programme about house-hunting in Wales, which discussed, briefly, Dylan Thomas’s love of the area. Subsequently I came across this article about places to visit in the area to celebrate the centenary of his birth.  I’m taking it as a sign that Wales is a good writing destination, and that our trip to the retreat at the end of April will be a success.

We writers love to interpret signs, after all!

Happy writing



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My penultimate 24 hours is drawing to a close, and I’ve gone off plan again!

I’m still doing my final read-through of the short stories for sending tomorrow, but that shouldn’t take too long (I hope – I really, really don’t enjoy these and will be very glad to not do short stories for a while) and I’m still working through The Story of One, but the most valuable part of the day was not project plan-related at all, but getting the feedback on the first novel.

It’s always nerve-jangling for me to share my work with people, so getting feedback on it can be quite difficult. However, going through the pages of notes my ‘critical friend’ had prepared was a very positive experience.

As this person represents my target audience, I was very pleased to hear that the story had engaged her, and was the kind of thing she would read (even without doing favours for me!).  There were a few discrepancies or technical matters that weren’t quite right but the story as a whole works.  I now need to sit down with the notes and my manuscript and decide what changes I want to make to alleviate those issues that have been flagged, but I have more confidence in the story now, and can see it having a future.

This is really good news for me – sometimes writing can feel like a vanity project, or too frivolous, and knowing my novel can be enjoyed as a work in its own right is excellent.

Phew – not a waste of a year then!!

As tomorrow afternoon and evening are allocated to the Halloween party, I will either post really early as a result of finishing everything by lunchtime – or really late as I eke a few more hours out when everyone else has gone to bed!

I predict the latter!

Happy writing,



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