Graeme

Writer's Blog

A place where I write about the writing life and writing projects in progress
 

July 16, 2012

  • Feedback, Giving and Getting
  • I recently sent off a script I wrote to someone I respect to get their opinion of it. I’m frankly nervous about hearing back from them.

    A long time ago, I wrote about how awkward the business of getting feedback can be. That dynamic still is thorny. But let’s avoid that element of the conversation.

    The risk you take in sending out your stuff for feedback—whether from a peer, a publisher, an agent or a professional—is that you get negative feedback. And after all these years I’m better at taking it, but still not very good.

    I remember when I was about 25, I pitched a short story to Andy Lane, who was then editing one of Virgin Publishing’s Decalog collections. I sent a synopsis and a writing sample. Andy sent me back a thoughtful, constructive rejection note. It was my first real rejection letter as an adult. I did not take it well.

    One thing I really remember was Andy taking my writing sample to task because my prose would switch from a third person narrative from one character’s point of view (which was the preferred house style of Virgin publishing at the time) to omniscient third person. “But there are multiple ways of doing narration!” I thundered to friends by e-mail afterward, “Why does it have to be that one way!?”

    Flash-forward eight years or so. I’m working on the same short story to put into an anthology for Richard Salter. I’m working through the prose I wrote years ago and I have this sudden revelation.

    “Holy fuck. Andy was right.” And he was. The narration was choppy and discordant and really should have stuck with third person from a single POV.

    Ten years later, I was asked by someone to look at a short story they did. It was a good piece, but there were a few things missing, and the ending needed rethinking. I tried to send a thoughtful, constructive note, that praised what was good but pointed out what needed attention.

    And somewhere along the line I realized: I was now Andy. It’s interesting how the world works.

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    July 05, 2012

  • Polaris
  • imageI’ve been going to Polaris (nee Toronto Trek) since 2000 (missing 2009 and 2011). It’s a convention near and dear to my heart. I’ve met one of my dearest friends there. I experienced one of the best room parties of my life there. Robert Smith? and I pitched Who is the Doctor there. I even met one of my past girlfriends there. I’ve argued with several programming heads and one constant innocent bystander (sorry, Dave Ennis!) about the quality of their Doctor Who programming. I’ve had a lot of good times there over the years.

    I love the fan panels, which for me, no matter the guest, are the heart of the convention (I think I’ve seen about 6 hours of main stage guest programming in the 10 or so conventions I’ve attended!). It’s a great place for fans to gather and talk about shows they love, and I love that immediacy and the thoughtful, fun, enthusiastic people who bring their all to those discussions. As a Doctor Who fan in the days before the New Series, it was a magical place for that reason. It was wonderful to share enthusiasm and speak the same language of geek.

    I love Polaris particularly because it’s like an extended fan family and I love being able to come back year after year and see the gang. Every year, I walk through the hallways and wave at people I haven’t seen since last time and I love that sense of, for lack of a better word, continuity and community.

    I’m what Polaris now calls a “pro participant” (they used to call us “author guests” back in the day). So I’ll be there with a semi-guest badge on, promoting Who is the Doctor, including a session devoted to it and a signing. Here’s my schedule for the weekend:

    Friday
    7pm. Doctor Who News - Newmarket

    Saturday
    11am. Sherlock: How Did He…? - Gormley
    Noon. Who Is The Doctor - Newmarket
    1pm. Meet The Pros Brunch - 1080
    2pm. Autograph session - Dealer’s Room/Marketplace
    3pm. TimeWarp 87: Doctor Who In 1987 - Oak Ridges
    5pm. Yes Amy, I Am A Mad Man With A Blue Box - Gormley
    6pm Being Erica: The Session Is Over - Gormley

    Sunday
    1pm. A Half-Century Of Doctor Who - Unionville
    2pm. Torchwood Miracle Day - Stouffville
    4pm. Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Classic Doctor Who Monster? - Unionville
    5pm. Move Along, Pond - Aurora

    As you can see, they’re getting their money’s worth out of me, though I’m doing this as a volunteer!

    Sadly, this is the last year of Polaris (“in this form” so the organizers say. Who knows what it will return as?). But this year is going to ensure it will go out with a bang. If you haven’t been, and are in the Toronto area, you should definitely come. It’s at the Sheraton Parkway Toronto North, located at 600 Highway 7, Richmond Hill, Friday-Sunday July 6-8.

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