Monday, 10 March 2008

The importance of feedback

If you are creative in any way, I'm sure that you will agree that if you don't get any feedback or recognition for your work, you'll feel as if you are withering away like the famous flower that bloomed unseen and wasted its sweetness on the desert air (The Rubaiyat of Omar Khyyam, I think). You'll think, 'Why did I bother making the huge creative effort that was needed to write that piece of music/paint that picture/carve that statue if nobody ever says they like it? If no-one ever bothers to look at it/listen to it. Even a criticism would be better than nothing.

This is exactly how I am feeling right now. I was challenged by my literary agent, to whom I haven't spoke for at least five years (a creative vacuum caused by a total silence on his part any time I sent him an idea for a book), to write three chapters of a book by this morning, because he was meeting a publisher for lunch. This was after I had moaned about never getting any kind of encouragement from him. The challenge was issued on Thursday and I spent the afternoon wandering round the Tower of London thinking about it.

On Friday I set to, producing a good 4000 words. On Saturday, aching with exhaustion, I wrote another 4000 +. By Sunday, strung out, my face, temples and jaw tense and aching, my fingers u able to bend, my back likewise, I finished three chapters, a total of 13,000 words, and a synopsis, too. I emailed them to him, saying "I bet you never thought I'd rise to the challenge." I expected to hear back - an acknowledgement that he'd got them safely, at the very least - and, at best, a "well done", even if he decided he didn't like them.

All day today I checked my email, sometimes every ten minutes. At first, I expected a reply. Then it got to lunchtime so I held my breath. Then it was after lunch and I crossed my fingers, hoping I'd get a message saying whether or not it had turned out to be the kind of thing the publisher was looking for. Nilch. Nada. Nichevo. Not a dicky-bird. Total silence.

To say I feel deflated is an understatement. After making such a supreme effort, I feel close to tears. Angry, hurt, almost insulted. I have had quite a few books published, after all (with my previous agent, God bless her). I am bewildered. I'm wondering if my writing talent has totally deserted me and my effort was so awful that he couldn't BEAR to acknowledge it, having sent it straight to his computer's trash bin. I think not acknowledging that I wrote the chapters and sent them is just plain rude. Just three words would have sufficed: "Got it, thanks."

Tell me, all ye who have agents - and even ye who don't: am I asking too much?


Jacula said...

I don't think expecting your agent to show, at minimum, common courtesy, by acknowledging receipt of your work is too much for you to wish for, Hydra, even if praise and/or helpful criticism isn't forthcoming. If I were you, I'd find another agent!

Every creative person needs some kind of feedback in order to feel it's worth carrying on. I hope the regular (and much deserved) praise I give this blog will spur you to keep on with it. Reading this is one of my daily pleasures to be savoured with a frothy mug of cappuccino.

hydra said...

I could hug you for that, Jac. I really had no idea if anyone read my blog at all, apart from an ex boyfriend who, I think, is hoping I might mention him one day. (You know who you are.)I'm really, really glad you enjoy it and will try and write every day now, so you have something new to read.

Jacula said...

Thanks, Hydra. I'll be sure to let you know when I will be away on holiday. (I'm sure the Other Half picks no internet connection places on purpose!)