Sunday, August 22, 2010

Author Seeking Input

To think this all started because of Hewlett-Packard.

A few weeks ago, I got a bug in my ear to read a summary of a research paper done by a group of people mostly affiliated with a wing of the Hewlett-Packard company that does, well, research. To read the piece, I had to sign up for a new website. Ugh. I hate that. One more way for my email address to get out there, another password to remember, et cetera, et cetera.

But I did it anyway. I really wanted to read the piece.

Then, in quick succession, I got two emails from people I know. Apparently they're on this website -- -- as well, and wanted to "subscribe" to whatever I post there. Really? I mean, I'm already on my blog, on Facebook, doing what I can to babble away on the Internet. But they want to read my Scribd stuff as well. So I put some stuff up there, including a copy of "Through A Glass Darkly," the novel I wrote earlier this year. Figured hey, maybe I'll get some comments on it on how to make it better. If you're on Scribd, you can read the book here.

So far, it's a wash. Scribd tells me at least 30 people have opened the file while two have downloaded it. One took the time to comment that the title I chose for the book is that of a book by Agatha Christie, so I ought to consider changing it. I did some research; the titles aren't quite the same, so I'm probably okay.

Agatha Christie as Miss Marple
Perhaps for her book "In A Glass Darkly."

So I'm hopeful someone out there will actually read the book and give me some concrete suggestions on how to fix it. Then again, given the quality of comments we typically see on the web, and that most people don't have the attention span to read a 1,000-word post, let alone a 114 page PDF, I'm not confident I'll get much out of it.

What I need to find is a local writers' group. Some live bodies willing to critique and offer constructive criticism. Anybody out there know of such a group in Eastern Idaho?


carl g said...

I've always wondered what writers workshops were like. I know some prominent novelists have broken out from doing them. Bruce Sterling's first novel, Involution Ocean, is a revision of a workshop piece. Dan Simmons broke out through a Harlan Ellison workshop. Anyway, it's a thought.

My limited experience is that you can't really get any good feedback until you get an editor to edit you for publication. And even then you probably won't get much useful advice. Just different tastes. I've never yet found an editor who can edit me better than I can. Certainly they're out there, but very rare. At the end of the day, I think most of us are on our own.

I'd be happy to read anything you'd like comment on, but not being a reader of fiction, I may not have much to say. But the offer's sincere.

Mister Fweem said...

I actually got to participate in a workshop with a Guggenheim-funded author (last name of Federman) when I was at the University of Idaho, and experienced pretty much what you described. A lot of flash, but not a lot of actual guidance. Still, I'd like to get any reaction or input at this point. I'm like you-I can edit things fairly well on my own, but with fiction getting other input is essential, even if it is just different tastes. That's why I've got the story on my blog, on Scribd. Michelle is also going to read it for me, and she's an excellent editor.