Friday, 8 May 2015
Happy Dance In My Head
On the last day of April - which was a fantastic month, by the way - I was travelling home on the GO Train. I was seated in one of the upper level cars, in one of those rows that face another. On rush hour trains, the upper cars are designated Quiet Zone areas - short and quiet conversations are okay; passengers may plug in to their personal devices, as long as they don't disturb others, etc.
It was a little after 4:30...okay, it was 4:36. I had checked, just as the thought crossed my mind to ask a favour of the woman seated across from me. She had been reading The Cruellest Month - a rather thick novel. I figured if she is a reader, then she could be relied upon to give valuable feedback on a totally new piece. Before I gave myself a chance to talk myself out of it (that sounds funny), I spoke up. I had read in Blake Snyder's Save The Cat that it's a good idea to ask someone at, say, a coffee shop, to look at you work or draft or idea. I totally get that. I imagine you'd likely get great feedback from a total stranger with no hangups about hurting the feelings of someone they'll probably never lay eyes on again. And, if they do, they'll probably change coffee shops. Or, you could change coffee shops. Okay! It's not about coffee shops.
So, as I was saying, before I interrupted myself, I spoke up.
Me: Excuse me. I've never done this before. I'm writing an introduction to my anthology of poems. Would you mind reading it and letting me know what you think?
She: Yes, of course.
I handed her my phone. She bookmarked her page, then looked me in the eye, "I'd be happy to read it."
Me: Thank you!
I was positively beaming! I did my happy dance in my head! Heh heh.
When she was finished, she leaned toward me and I followed cue and leaned toward her. We were, after all, in the Quiet Zone.
She: It's very real. It's very personal, and it's moving. It should go well with the poems as that's what they're about. It needs a bit of editing, but it's really good.
Me: Thanks so much. Could you tell me where needs editing?
She: That part where you talk about the relationship? His pillow? Is it a real person or someone you're imagining? The reader needs to be clear on that. Hopefully, that gives you enough to go on?
Me: Yes! Thank you!
I'm glad I'd plucked up the courage to do it. I got good feedback. She was right, of course. I knew the context I had had in mind when I wrote that section, but the reader would need more information to make sense of it.
Can I tell you? That was a wonderful way to end April 2015! I had won the poetry competition at the Lit Café, and @CBCBooks had held a lil #CBCRhymes competition on Twitter one day - and I was one of two (or three) winners! I received a few poetry books as my prize. They came just in time, too. A few days earlier, my publisher had asked me to send the write-ups - acknowledgements, author bio, and so on - for my upcoming poetry book. I had decided on a cover, too. When I got those books in the mail, the first thing I did was pay attention to the covers; how the titles were written; whether the font sizes were too big, etc. And, yes, I will be reading them. :-)
Fourteen to Fortyish: The Formative Years is now in the production process.