is that they’ll just be polite and say they liked your work.

And feedback is crucial. It’s because you can get too close to your story and not see whether or not what you’re trying to say is really getting through to others.

I feel like I’m writing a tutorial for goodness sakes!

And the main reason I’m saying all this is because I had a really nice lunch with a friend of mine and we’re starting to be crit buddies, I think.

And the nicest thing she said to me wasn’t that she liked it.

I’ve gotten to the point where I almost gloss over those words. They’re practically meaningless when it comes to writing. And would a friend really say they absolutely hated it? It stunk? You should forget about writing and get a day job?

I actually find the polite veneer of society really irksome at times. Whose got time to be pussy-footing around other people’s feelings all the time? And yet, when I don’t, I get myself into trouble. I offend people I didn’t mean to offend just because I said something that was too close to what I actually thought.

We, in the west, pride ourselves with our freedom of speech and yet political correctness, being polite, has gotten to a point where people get in trouble if they slip and say what they’re actually thinking.

I guess I’ve taken a different approach. If someone is saying the truth as they see it, even if what they said could be construed as offensive, I try really hard not to take offense. I know I’m qualifying that statement, only because I may have taken offense in the past, but now I don’t.

At least one of my daughters understands this about me. She’s the one who reassures the others that when Ami says she doesn’t mind doing something, she really doesn’t mind doing it, she’s not being polite so you can take her at her word.

When I’m asking new writers for feedback, I remember what I was like when I was first starting to critique. So I tend to take any praise with a grain of salt. Especially since there may also be reacting to the fact that I’m more published than they are and they might feel that if they offend me I won’t help them with critiquing their work.

A lot of writers for children make the mistake of thinking that getting feedback from kids is the way to go. That worked in the movie Big but on the whole it doesn’t work that well.

Of course you have to take your readers into consideration. But one of the biggest signs of a novice is when they argue with feedback saying “yeah but I got a group of kids to read this and they loved it!”, and worst of all is putting that in a covering letter!

The sad fact is a group of kids is not necessarily the best judge of children’s lit.  I know this sounds elitist, but it’s actually pretty accurate. Kids are even less experienced than adults at offering critique and they’re young. So the intimidation factor is magnified. Or, the opposite, they might be extra critical because they’re trying to get back at you.

 The only exception I can think of is my own kids, who delight in knocking me and my inflatable ego down to size.

When dealing with feedback I quickly learned to ask pointed questions to really draw out what they felt when they were reading my work. What parts seemed forced? How did they find the pacing? Did this particular scene work? Things like that.

And often how they say something is more important than what a person says with regards to critique. But at lunch time, my friend surprised me. Inadvertently she reinforced my faith in that novel that I’ve been suffering a crisis in confidence over.

She said it was *very well written*. And she said this with a tinge of, geez, would I sound conceited if I said ‘awe’. At least it appeared like that to me.

And then later she said that she’d been reading it over during lunch time, she’s a high school teacher, and looked up to see that twenty minutes had passed and she’d read like thirty pages without realizing it!

I think there’s no better compliment to your writing than the fact that a reader has forgotten that they were reading.

Phew! What a relief!

Finally I’m starting to reaffirm my faith in this story.