Updated: Feb 27
The dreadful feeling still comes with this F word, but I’m now armed with a childhood lesson
Feedback: Critical assessment or suggestions to improve performance.
This was when my book PiKu & ViRu (buy/download, read, and review it here—it’s FREE on Kindle Unlimited) was in the professional-editing stage.
My editor emailed me a bunch of comments in the structural-editing round, and I had to address them as soon as possible if things had to proceed to the line- and copy-editing phase.
When do you think I addressed those comments?
Immediately after my editor sent them to me?
A day later?
A week later?
Correct answer: one and a half months later!
The reason behind the delay was an obvious one.
My fear of getting negatively affected by feedback and of not being able to address it properly.
The same also happened during the beta-reading stage a few months ago, but I was somehow able to work around it.
Things were different in the professional-editing stage, though.
Stuff was a bit more technical, so there were comments that, despite the editor’s clear-cut explanations, I wasn’t able to wrap my head around.
Somehow, I pushed myself to clear this stage and made the changes.
Later, my editor sent me my revised draft with some more comments to resolve.
While reading this draft and those comments, I realised…
My manuscript had veered off from my original vision!
It wasn’t my editor’s fault. She was simply trying to help me improve my work.
It just happened on its own.
Yet, I also had to stay true to the vision I’d had for my book.
Now, they say it isn’t necessary to address all of your editor’s feedback.
As a writer, the choice is entirely yours.
But I’ve learned from my former workplaces that if the editor is just one person who feels something’s off about a part of your work, tens of thousands of your readers are going to feel the same.
That’s why you better face the disaster now so you can avert it in time before your readers point it out to you.
I resolved to address each and every bit of feedback, no matter how tough it seemed.
At the same time, I had to marry those comments with my original vision.
I turned the entire challenge into a fun game.
It’s easier said than done, I know.
I ended up spending two sleepless days on the project!
But here’s an analogy that helped me out.
An incident from my childhood.
It was my sister’s second birthday. I was 5 at the time.
Our parents took us to a nearby cake shop.
Back in the day, I was obsessed with pineapple cakes.
If I saw a pineapple cake or pastry at a store, it had to be mine.
No matter what occasion or time of the day, I could always do with a pineapple cake.
So, when I saw there were 2 cakes at the shop—the first a half kilo, the other a full one—I wanted both of them.
Yep, I was this difficult for my parents.
My folks tried to convince me to go only for one.
I had to have both of them.
My sister, if she’d have had any proper thinking or speaking faculties developed at the time, would never have allowed these plans to come to fruition.
And I would never have learned a valuable lesson.
One I now visualise whenever I have to address a round of feedback.
The moment my parents realised they couldn’t calm down their brat, they gave a resigned look to the cake seller.
The cake seller simply nodded and took both cakes in.
After what seemed like hours but were only a few minutes, she walked out with a double-tier cake, where the half kilo one was stacked on top of the full kilo one.
It actually looked like the world’s prettiest wedding cake.
I’m sure my sister never complained, looking at the final result.
My parents didn’t either, though they had to shell out the cost.
I’m now mature enough to not repeat this incident again. (Though, I still end up buying a lot of what I don’t need when I’m left with my credit card at a hypermarket.)
Besides, I just dislike pineapple cakes now.
But that’s not the point.
The point is the lesson I learned from the cake seller.
There is always a solution.
Somewhere down the line, I forgot about this takeaway completely.
Until I had to address my book editor’s comments and match them with my vision.
The feedback was the half-kilo cake here, and my vision, the full-kilo one.
Today, whenever anyone sends me back a string of comments…
I welcome it with open arms.
These comments aren’t meant to belittle anyone.
Nor are they an attack on our self-worth or abilities.
Feedback is simply an opportunity for us to improve our work from what it is currently and take it to another incredible level while also helping us retain our original vision for our work.
Tattoo this line somewhere if you want to.
Because then, you’ll never dread feedback.
You’d start welcoming it.
You’d look forward to it.
And then whoever gives you feedback becomes your partner, your ally, your best friend.
Feedback is important. We need it.
It makes us creative.
It compels us to think.
It all depends on how we take it—if we dread it, run away from it, or make a double-tiered cake out of it.