As of this past Friday, I have officially heard from all three of my faculty thesis committee members, per the first full draft of my book. Each reader was drastically different–one was concise and extensive, one was clipped and topical, and one was harebrained and convoluted. They all have their strengths, as anyone who has had anything submitted for approval, from a sestina to a spread sheet, knows.
It was the latter of the three that I have found the most helpful, as in, the one that made me want to dig in, rather than be buried alive by the prospect of a second revision. The reason for this is that it engaged with the ideas of the book, rather than of the structure/voice/audience formulaic commentary that is typical in art programs at any level. The formulaic stuff is worth its weight, for sure, but the difference between this kind of commentary, and feedback is just what the latter word suggests: someone was fed, and now is feeding you.
So, this sounds like a regurgitating pigeon. I guess I’m okay with that.
Quote from Harebrain:*
“…these [small, mundane] moments bring bryan [with a little b] to life, and the more you come to life as just bryan, the more we are interested in Bryan the seeker. Sort of like if this was a novel about Paul, we’d want more than ½ about Saul the tax collector. I think that’s what we fiction writers do mostly: we write about Saul. We’re interested in Saul more than Paul, although we live to know about the Paul buried in Saul early on, and how that Paul gets released. So, again, where there were moments of confused bryan-ness, I was into that.”
Despite the fact that Harebrain is a fiction prof, and is responding in that vein, the whole lowercase/uppercase point is really helpful. Even though I’m writing about my life, I have to turn myself into a character, a type, even a multidimensional symbol. This is what separates it from writing a journal.**
The other plus about this kind of feedback is that it is a bit unhinged. Meaning, it chased after meaning. The response got messy because Harebrain dove right in, and gasp let it swirl into Harebrain’s own person and history. Basically, Harebrain was okay with being harebrain as well as Harebrain. And i/I like that.
*meaning, one snippet from 7-page, single-space ecstatic mental nosedive.