The Practice of Creativity

When Readers Give You Clues About What to Write & Affirmations-366Days#57

Posted on: February 27, 2016

Affirmations-366Days#57: I pay close attention to what readers tell me they love about my work. I follow these clues.
For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.

People who love our work give us clues about what to write more of. Today I was in the gym and saw a writing acquaintance who I hadn’t seen in several months. Many years ago, we had been in the same prompt writing group started by one of my writing teachers, Marjorie Hudson. I loved her writing. In her writing, she mostly drew on her multifaceted experiences being a neonatal nurse for over thirty years. She didn’t consider herself a writer and despite our urging, in the end, decided to write mostly for her family.

She asked me what I was working on and I told her I was polishing a collection of short fiction and sending out more of my poetry. She said, “And you are writing a memoir, too, right?” I really haven’t written any creative non-fiction in some time. Then she said, “Have you done anything with that piece, ‘She Saved Me Once and I Tried to Save Her Twice’?” I was shocked that she remembered the name of this short piece, written now over five years ago, that I brought to class and read. It was the beginning of the story of how my mother saved my life and how I tried to save her life twice. A look of surprise crossed my face and I said something like, “I can’t believe you remember that.” And she looked me straight in the eye and said, “Of course I do; it was earth-shattering, honest, and unforgettable.” She held my gaze for a few moments. Wow! I told her that I had explored snippets of my mother and daughter journey in a brief essay I wrote for the book A Letter to My Mom that was published last year. I periodically think about writing that memoir, but it often goes on the back burner.

Different projects need different rhythms and complex levels of investment from us. So, I probably am not going to drop all my other projects to take up this one right now. But, on the other hand, I found her feedback to be so valuable and affirming. I also miss writing creative nonfiction now that I am not writing a monthly column anymore. And, people loved my columns. Sometimes I think we as writers are not always the best judges of what we should work on. It’s good to get direct feedback from people who enjoy our work. That can lead us in new directions, or back to cherished but languishing projects.

 

Have you received feedback from an enthusiastic reader that made you reconsider a past project or even writing into another genre?

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6 Responses to "When Readers Give You Clues About What to Write & Affirmations-366Days#57"

I agree! I am loved the snippet you posted last year and am dying to hear more!

Hi Camille. Thank you! We should talk sometime about writing creative nonfiction.

Love to! How about a stroll around campus? Email me a time to meet at the Library.

Sounds good. My spring break is coming up in a few weeks and this would be perfect.

It’s great to find a new reaffirmation because of an unexpected feedback. It’s also proof that what touches people stays with them forever. I’ve gotten good feedback for my poems. Even remember my college professor itching to read a few of my poems during workshop. And how another student declared herself my first fan. But as you said, despite the positive feedback, you’re not going to drop your other projects. I’m the same because even when I don’t receive as much positive feedback, I still want to continue writing fiction. I won’t give up poetry nor fiction either.

Lidy, I know you juggle a lot of projects. I think as long as the projects feed us in some way, it all works. I am really enjoying my poetry writing.

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Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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