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How to approach this...

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by deilaitha, Jul 6, 2014.

  1. deilaitha

    deilaitha Sage

    Okay. So, I sent my dad a manuscript that I had written, asking for the following simple feedback: general impressions, recommendations for improvement, do I answer all the questions raised by the story, are the characters believable, etc. This was my first draft--partially revised, and I wanted some direction on things that might need a major fix before I really launched into the heavy duty editing. I told him not to worry about the stuff like grammar and what not, because that kind of worrying would come at a later phase.

    I sent it to him over a year ago. He still hasn't read it (well, he read 1/3 of it). At this point, I don't expect him to. He hasn't read (in full) anything since a dumb 40k word story I wrote at the age of 15. That was a long time ago.

    Do I tell my dad how much this hurts me? Or do I just accept the fact that he doesn't care about my writing career and move forward? I decided, even when I gave it to him, to just keep editing anyway with or without feedback. I figured he'd have it read far before I made a ton of progress (I'm a slow editor). What I mean is, do I just forget about it and stop asking him if he's going to finish reading it? I don't need validation from my dad to know that I am a capable writer. I wanted his feedback because he's a pretty smart, well-read dude and I thought he could help me kick up my skills a notch.

    I would rather have my dad tell me that I suck as a writer than what he's doing now.

    I'm guessing I'm not the only one here with unsupportive family members. How do the rest of you deal with this? Do you confront them? Forgive and forget?
  2. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    There could be many reasons why your father isn't giving you feedback so I won't assign a purpose to his non-responsiveness. Family dynamics are far more complex that I can ever possibly imagine...
    What I would say is... Forget it, it isn't worth the mental energy.
    I'd move on to look for unbiased [or at least less biased] readers for your work. They may be here on this site or with a real world [shock and horror] writing group where you live.
    I don't let anyone in my family ready what I write. I wouldn't dream of it. And as much as I love my family, none of them would ever "get" what I write or what I mean. And some of it might scare the creeps out of them.
    There are very few people who's comments I value when it comes to my writing and it has taken me years to find them.
    Good luck.
    T.Allen.Smith and deilaitha like this.
  3. soggymuse

    soggymuse Dreamer

    I would try to forget about it, as CupofJoe said. One piece of advice I've heard is to never give your work to family or friends for feedback. Even if they're also writers, it's the very rare person who can review something a love one has written without feeling they should give only positive feedback, or feeling awkward if they can't commit to reading it after all.

    I know how you feel, though. My dad helps me a ton with worldbuilding stuff and acts as a sounding board (whether he likes it or not xD) but he's said outright he'd never read the manuscript itself. That doesn't bother me as it probably should: he's not a reader, and it's a gay romance so I'd be horrified if he actually asked to read it anyway.

    On the other hand, my friend of eight years has asked repeatedly to read it, and I've asked him. This is a guy I've known (online only) since he was fifteen; he served as staff on the forum RPG I ran for at least a third of the time I've known him so I trust him to both act as a sounding board (like my dad, but more willing *bwahahaha*) and as someone who could critique my work without too much bias. (I say too much because he is my friend; he'd try to be honest, but there's always going to be that element of "does he mean that or is he just saying it...?") Now, as often as he's asked for a copy of my manuscript (half a dozen times by now) and as often as I've asked him to read it, he's read it exactly... none.

    The thing is, I know my friend is unreliable. How he ever graduated with a degree, I will never know. (Not because he's not smart, but because he's very easily distracted - like a puppy - and openly admits to procrastinating when he should be doing more productive things.) And yet, knowing all this about him - and having experience of his unreliableness through the site I ran - I still asked him and am still really upset when he admits "I haven't read it yet".

    I'm now at the stage where I just think, if he reads it, great. If not... it's no loss because I don't expect any feedback from him. It sounds like you're at that stage with your dad, too, and that's why I said try to forget. It's easier said than done. If your dad reads it and gives you honest feedback, great. If not, try not to be too upset. It's probably not even about your book or his feelings on your career, so try not to take it personally, too. You'll find more (useful) help from peers and beta writers, regardless.
    deilaitha likes this.
  4. deilaitha

    deilaitha Sage

    It's funny you say that; I've frequently heard how useful friends and family can be. My mom read this manuscript, and she told me a few things that she didn't like about it, pointed out some stuff that needs to be fixed. And I've reviewed stuff for members of my family, and I don't skimp on the negative feedback. I'm not helping them if I just say, "Oh, yeah, that's great and stuff." I'm not mean, but I don't pretend the problems aren't there.

    What you say makes sense too, though, and I get it. Kind of a, 'don't do business with family and friends' deal.

    So, should I tell my dad he's off the hook? Because he's been avoiding me for about 7 months now, and I think it's because he's embarrassed that he hasn't read it. Or would that just make it more embarrassing for him?
  5. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    I'd mention it. I say that from my perspective as a dad, because I would absolutely want you to say something if you were my kid :)

    There could be any number of reasons he hasn't finished it. Maybe he doesn't realize how important it is to you. Maybe he doesn't feel qualified to say anything about it, so he's avoiding it by not finishing it. Maybe he doesn't like it and doesn't want to hurt your feelings, so he's avoiding that. Or any of a dozen other possibilities. But you'll never know what it is, unless you talk to him about it. And he'll never know how you're feeling unless you say something.
  6. soggymuse

    soggymuse Dreamer

    It's nice to hear from someone who can give unbiased feedback to loved ones. I'm sad to say that my experience is the opposite, though probably 80% of that is my fault. I just can't take feedback from loved ones without wondering "are they being honest?" I think that's probably another reason I've seen the advice not to ask for crit from friends and family: the writers themselves aren't capable of using the feedback properly. xD That said, I do have a friend with whom I've exchanged drafts and critiques, but I don't see him often enough to feel awkward if he doesn't like what I write or what I've said about his own writing. Maybe that's the difference?

    I think Steerpike's right, either way. I'd be tempted to simply tell him you've found someone else to read it, but he could hear that as a passive-aggressive stab at his failure as a beta, so it's probably best to be upfront. It may have the added bonus of him admitting why he hasn't read it.
  7. acapes

    acapes Sage

    Tough question - I'd maybe say 'yes' tell him he's off the hook? Let him know you're a bit disappointed and maybe you can both get past it easier? Maybe? I dunnno, you know him best, how would that conversation go? Good luck with whatever you choose.
  8. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    My daughter once expressed interest in my stories. I printed out a copy of one, gave it to her. She took it to work, read part of it on break, and said I used too many big words. She was a year out of high school at the time.

    Gave some other stories to a long time friend of mine a couple years back, including one based more or less on one of his ideas. He's yet to look at any of them.

    Sent quite a few of my tales to my mentally unstable cousin in San Francisco. He likes them, but I suspect one dark piece was a contributing factor to his last trip to the mental institution. He did mention that some of his friends - also with mental issues - like the stories as well. Is this a good thing?
  9. Rinzei

    Rinzei Troubadour

    As others have said, it's probably not a great idea to expect feedback from family. The assumption is that they will want to help you be better, and that's what you want, but they either don't know how, don't have time, don't have enough interest (there's no shame in it not really being their thing), or the help they give you isn't really what you needed. You can't take it personally - it's just not something that is going to help with your writing or self-esteem. Hell, my husband and I both love writing and can't give feedback to each other! I find pushing the issue, begging him to give me feedback, only leaves me deflated when it either isn't what I expected or just doesn't happen at all.

    It's better to look for people who have a genuine interest in giving you feedback whom are less connected - they will be more interested in being honest with you to help your story grow than wondering if what they say will ruin any sort of friendship/relationship outside writing.
  10. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    There are zillions of beta readers out in the world. You can readily get honest feedback from others who will have no emotional investment in the process. Given that, why give your work to someone who *does* have emotional baggage?

    My take on family is this: let them read it once it is published. That work, the one that has already been through beta readers and editors, is my best effort. Why would I show my loved ones anything less?

    The misshapen, misbegotten, ill-born mutant that is a WIP, that monstrosity I show only to fellow writers, who are accustomed to viewing such horrors. Only fellow writers know how to tell me its faults while convincing me it will one day grow up to be beautiful.

    Oh, and as for Dad, I wouldn't so much let him off the hook as let him know he's not alone. Go find some beta readers. Tell Dad that you have other folks reviewing your manuscript, that you still welcome any feedback he might have, but you are not standing around waiting for it.

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