My “Reader Zero,” i.e. the first person to read a full draft of the SickyBeat manuscript, came to me the other day. I was nervous and on the defensive the millisecond after realizing she wanted to discuss the book, because I knew what her issue was. In my struggle to order the printing (from multiple online sources) I put the pieces first which seemed to focus on my adoration of Shania Twain. This individual isn’t a fan, and she worried that the entire book would have that, teenager freaking-out-over-idol, vibe.
She read a line, a metaphor referencing Shania, meant to signify my state of mind at that time of life. I expressed that to my reader, still having to admit that the tone that came across when SHE read it didn’t fit my intended message. When I had done a verbal edit I knew where I stand, and the exact meaning I was trying to convey. Although I have a fair command over the English language, I also tend to use words as a poet first.
I rely on imagery to a degree that is not as common in other written forms. The term, “Flowery Language” is a common one for this habit; I don’t like the term because it has a negative connotation to some. I use vivid words to express a scene or idea.
The issue is,the same words evoke different images to different people. Much of the power people assign to language is driven from the context of their own experiences. When I began writing this book, (the piece my reader and I discussed was written in the first few months,) I was writing for myself. I had a vague sense that I wanted to publish the final product, but my goal at the time was to get the stories on paper, in a tone that appealed to my own sensibilities best.
Fortunately for this book, I’ve done enough work on recognizing my emotions, and the thoughts behind them, that I was able to hold my tongue. There was more she had to say than what I expected, and it was very useful. To assure my reader that this book was more than the first few pages she’s read, I had her jump to a random spot in the middle and tell me if she saw a different tone. She said yes.
Since I know what it’s like to be utterly turned off, or hooked, by a paragraph I am grateful for the opportunity feedback gives me. I was asked, how much she should say. My response was: write everything. I can take it all in and apply what helps the story come out in my intended fashion. I’d rather see it all than skip something out of kindness that turns out to be a big turn off.
My story is a valid and important one, I want to give it the time, work, and reflection it deserves!