Paper $16.95 ISBN: 9781584655442 Published July 2006

Toxic Feedback

Helping Writers Survive and Thrive

Joni Cole

Toxic Feedback

Joni Cole

Distributed for University Press of New England

168 pages | 6 x 9
Paper $16.95 ISBN: 9781584655442 Published July 2006
All writers have stories of how some teacher, workshop participant, friend, or spouse gave them commentary that undermined their confidence and their writing. This “toxic feedback” has tainted feedback’s reputation as a whole, causing too many writers to avoid or mismanage this valuable resource. In the first book to focus on this vital but delicate dynamic, Joni B. Cole applies first-person experience, real-life teaching examples, and her own unique ability to entertain while reaffirming the many merits of feedback. Cole shows writers how to use feedback to energize and inform their writing at every stage of the process. For feedback providers, she delivers insights into constructive criticism and the difference between being heard and being obnoxious. Finally, she offers advice to workshops and critique groups on how to thrive in this collective experience. In addition, established writers ranging from Julia Alvarez and Khaled Hosseini to Gregory Maguire and Jodi Picoult share their own feedback stories -- from useful to inspiring to deranged -- underscoring Cole’s message that feedback plays a critical role in every writer’s success. Through a mixture of instruction, anecdotes, and moral support, Cole manages to detoxify the feedback process with humor and without laying blame, inspiring both sides of the interaction to make the most of this powerful resource.
Contents
Every Writer Has a Story • Rethinking Feedback • What is Feedback? • EQ • Sarah Stewart Taylor: “Wow! This could be my job.” • Getting Feedback • Is It You . . . or Is It Them? • Processing Feedback • Samina Ali: “I would have sold my soul.” • Twenty-Two Years • Editing Your Editor • Ernest Hebert: “I wanted writing to be easy for me and it wasn’t.” • Feedback Hotlines • “Danger, Danger, Will Robinson!” • Jennifer Crusie: “A story is a collaboration between a writer and a reader.” • The Club • Waiting for Feedback • Archer Mayor: “Emotion is a blinding force.” • The Value of Toxic Feedback • Giving Feedback • Preventing Mental Meltdowns • The Power of Positive Feedback • Grace Paley: “My nature wasn’t ambitious enough to go ahead on my own.” • A Right Way and a Wrong Way • Can You Please Be More Specific! • Khaled Hosseini: “Even if the book is good, no one is going to want to publish it.” • The Moment of Truth • Common Human Decency • Don (D. B.) Johnson: “My best advice is to marry well.” • Editorial Biases • Get That Look Off Your Face • Ted Kooser: “We all serve communities.” • Small Miracles • In the Company of Writers • Hey, Let’s Put On a Workshop! • How to Have a Good Group Discussion • Gregory Maguire: “I don’t revise in an architectural way.” • Who’s in Charge? • The Top Ten Rules of a Successful Writing Group • Julia Alvarez: “My dream of becoming a writer was a fool’s dream.” • Meet the World’s Worst Workshop • Publishing • Jodi Picoult: “I call our relationship my second marriage.” • Can Creative Writing Be Taught? • Crystal Wilkinson: “Processing feedback has to be a meditation.” • In Appreciation of Bad Writing • Epilogue: Feedback and the Real World • Acknowledgments • About the Author
For more information, or to order this book, please visit https://www.press.uchicago.edu
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