Wednesday, June 1, 2011

On Bob Loomis's retirement.

This is a marvelous tribute to an incredible career, and a deserving interview subject. All writers should be so lucky as to get to work with someone as thoughtful and meticulous.

I'm especially enjoying the stories about Bob's varied approaches to working with different authors (isn't the bit about Maya Angelou's telegrams delightful?), and will have more to say in a future post about how I think this translates to the agent/client or editor/author relationship more generally.

I'm still ruminating on the excellent discussion in the comments on yesterday's post regarding the pitfalls of informality; thank you.

Your turn: who or what helps you to improve or refine your writing? Do you have a critique group, a trusted "beta reader?" When someone gives you feedback on a piece, do you prefer the Styron or the Angelou approach?

[edit: fixed link to point to first page of article]


Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

Lovely. :) e

Anonymous said...

Interesting article. I had never heard of Mr. Loomis.

When it comes to manuscript feedback, I feel that there's no such thing as "too nitpicky." All the little things matter. Swapping a colon for a semicolon can change the meaning of an entire book - to say nothing of a poem!

Jenni Wiltz said...

I've found that I'm my own worst critic, the harshest reviewer I could possibly have. I won't send out work until I can read every line without stopping, wincing, or flipping back to re-read something that didn't make sense. Based on the comments I've received from creative writing professors, I think I've come to a pretty accurate sense of when a piece is finally finished and ready.

So the short answer is...I guess I help myself refine my writing.

Jenny said...

I love critique groups. I have a regular one of local writers I'm a member of, and have also taken creative writing classes that were spectacular. In addition to having my own work discussed, I like hearing the critiques others get too, because I sometimes thoughts or suggestions come up that I hadn't even thought of in terms of my own projects.

adelaida said...

It depends how polite and well-read the members of the critique group are. It's pointless if they are too nice or if they don't know your genre/competition. What every writer needs is ONE great reader that can go over your manuscript, page by page, like Mr.Loomis. I'm with Emily Dickinson,[I] "rather wince, than die."

Jessica Brockmole said...

I have a fantastic critique group I've been a member of for a few years now. What I've learned from them both in critiquing and in being critiqued has been invaluable. We're pretty tight-knit and all know each other's writing style so intimately that we can quickly pick up on those little nagging nits that throw off the rhythm. It's great!

I also have a dear friend and critique partner who is there for me whether I'm looking for someone to read a paragraph, bounce ideas off, or just listen to me whine my way through a momentary block. She always knows the right questions to ask and the right directions to push me. I would've given up ages ago if she hadn't been there for me.

Shoshanna Evers said...

I like to send my work to honest beta readers who love to read my type of books. I'm lucky that most of my favorite betas are also now published authors themselves. Since I write a lot, I try to avoid "beta burnout" by alternating manuscripts between several people :)