Still Not Telling

Last week I wrote about how as a reader, listener or observer we tend to overlay our own thoughts and perceptions upon artistic endeavours. This led me to think about what this experience has been like as a writer, to have my work read and reviewed.

There are times when I’ve had my short stories critiqued and I’ve been surprised – and quietly delighted – with the interpretations, assumptions and insights that readers share with me. It is really interesting to experience. Sometimes I’ve been asked ‘what happened next?’ which can be a very difficult question to answer. There are times when I genuinely don’t know.

It can be revealing to have layers and nuances in your work picked up by others, and quite often these touches have not consciously been included in the writing. It is with distance or a different perspective that they become most evident.

At other times, the vision and intent that had been so clear in my mind doesn’t always translate clearly to the page. What had seemed so evident to me may not be apparent to the reader, and this is where getting feedback before releasing work out into the world can be beneficial. Another option might be to leave the work to rest a little longer, then return with fresh eyes to read through and pick up on ambiguity or gaps that may not have been evident in the earlier reading.

Belonging to a writing group with critiquing sessions is helpful in many ways, and being able to get an idea of what your work sounds and feels like is one of the main benefits. You also get the chance to hone your own critiquing skills by reviewing the work of other writers. This helps to sharpen the skills with your own writing, as well as giving you access to a sense of what a reader experiences when they read your work.

What insights have you experienced by putting your work out into the world?

[Photo: sunset at Wellington, NSW near turnoff for Wellington Caves on the Mitchell Highway]

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7 thoughts on “Still Not Telling

  1. Love this post! It speaks to me particularly right now because I just had two people reveal insights to me. I absolutely find it invaluable to have others read my work. My sister has recently pointed out where two of my characters act outside their personalities, and a local author I’ve recently made an acquaintance with, who was kind enough to read my first two scenes!, advised that I probably shouldn’t introduce too many characters at once especially within the first few paragraphs.

    All these things are gleamingly obvious now they’ve been pointed out, but of course someone had to point them out first for me to see them 🙂

    • Thank you so much for your comments, and I’m so pleased that you too have benefitted from getting feedback on your work. It sounds like you have been receiving some great advice which will make your work even better – and getting early feedback can make a critical difference to the final work. Sometimes it is hard to see the forest for the trees, and it can be easier for someone without a personal investment in the work to provide feedback.

      Best of luck with your writing and thank you for stopping by 😊.

  2. I have noticed with some of my blogs that people have read an entirely different perspective into what I have written. It’s surprised me. But it doesn’t mean that I have not written it well . It simply means that, as postmodernism tells us, every person brings their own perspective to what they read, and it means different things to different people. So my reason for writing may be totally different to what it means to them, and that’s okay.

    • Thanks, Terry, for your insightful comments. It is true that we bring our own mindset to what we read and experience, and it can be a surprise for the writer (or creator) when there is a disconnect or difference between the intended message and the received message. It makes me think about mindset and how as a reader I am often looking for something specific and how this might skew how I interpret what I’m reading.

      Thank you for making me think a little deeper on the subject.

  3. On the other hand, sometimes when I write something I leave out a conn cation that has seemed obvious to me but not necessarily obvious to the reader. The way I (hopefully) get around this is by leaving it for a while and coming back to reread before I post. I never post anything that I haven’t already left for a while, re-read, sometimes left again and re-read agin, before I finally post it

    • That’s a great approach – and I get the connection! Like you I do tend to leave a post for a spell before sending it out into the world. I try and treat them in a similar way to short stories, letting them rest and then reading them through with care before sending, but there are times when the message may be clearest only to myself.

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