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Saturday, May 9, 2015

Feedback, like cookies.

Sometimes the writing goes smoothly, other times it becomes a real chore. Or sometimes, it seems to sit on the page, staring back at you, not going anywhere for a while, and other times it flows from your consciousness seemingly without effort. Why?

One of the things I have thought of is, of all things, feedback.

Writers, it seems to me, and especially fiction writers require it. Why do you suppose there are writers' groups prevalent throughout the country? What are they there for, but for feedback? And it doesn't have to be "good feedback" either. It can be criticism, or suggestions - helpful or otherwise. Whatever form it takes, feedback is like nourishment. And you as the writer thrive on it, and you "need" it, seemingly more and more. Now I'm quite certain that there are writers out there who need it in very small quantities, and there are those of us who are real "feedback junkies."

If I were to tell you that I know why, I would be lying to you. I really don't know why this is. I could expound great theories about the psychology of this need. But then those theories would amount to nothing more that the millions of other untestable hypotheses about the mind and its interactions with other minds.

What I do know is that with feedback, I am given the mental nourishment to go on with my writing. There is something that is provided in the form of "energy" to proceed and let the writing gremlins wrestle their way as they do, to produce the next completed project.

But there is another aspect to this "energy" which seems independent of feedback, or at least much less dependent on it. And that is the build up of internal tension within the story that you are writing, which gives it a certain inevitability, and forward momentum to the next climax/release point.

For the few of you who are familiar with my first trilogy, The Book of Drachma, within Laminar Flow, it wasn't until nearly the end (chapter twenty, to be precise), where it took the necessary downhill turn, and by then I was virtually done with the story. With the second book, it was chapters fifteen and sixteen before I could "coast" to the end. And with book three (Turbulence and Restoration) we build up to chapter twelve, then briefly coast, but build up again to the climax in chapter twenty-one. And where I needed the external source of energy was chapters five through twelve of book two, and chapters four through eight, as well as chapters fourteen through seventeen of book three. And it was my regular blog readers who provided me with a steady supply of feedback, and for that I am eternally grateful!

And so now we've come to my second trilogy (Heir of Drachma), and book one in that series, The Healer's Defense, is now published, and is due to be released a week from Tuesday, May 19th. To tell you the truth, this novel was written almost entirely without external feedback, and I'm getting the munchies. So, it's now up to you, the great swarm of readers, to tell me if it's any good.

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