Saturday, August 10, 2013

Entry # 166 - "Let Us Hear The Good Stuff"

 Photo - Wilde Lake - Columbia, MD - Jan Bowman
In Laura Oliver’s wonderful guide to craft, the Story Within, she says, “All writers need to hear the good stuff. They need to hear it first and they need to hear it last.”  Which is to say that writers who hear the good stuff, who learn what they’re doing well, learn to trust their intuition and risk more in their writing. As a result, they will write more, if they feel confident and writers really do improve by writing more. We writers risk a lot and it is scary work. But writers hope to improve by putting words on the page and revising them until the words on the page are true to that wavy vision we had in the first place.

Oliver goes on the say, “Writers don’t become arrogant, conceited, or lazy when work is praised.” In fact, mature writers who see what they’re doing right can then move on and go deeper into revising their work.  And since writers usually have a ‘feeling’ about areas in their work that trouble them, they are more open to finding solutions in keeping with their vision.

Photo - Harbour Town - St. Michaels, MD - Jan Bowman

Oliver reminds us that stories belong to the writer, not to readers in a workshop setting.  She says, “The story is not yours to change, so don’t change it. If you feel a change is necessary, see if you can suggest a couple of ideas worth exploring rather than expressing vague dissatisfaction.”

Yes. Find the good stuff, even if you must struggle to do so. ‘Applaud the energy, creativity, honesty of a piece’ and then the writer can hear what else might help the work evolve in keeping with that writer’s vision.
Photo - St. Michaels, MD - Jan Bowman
About Jan Bowman

Jan Bowman’s fiction has appeared in numerous publications including, Roanoke Review, Big Muddy, The Broadkill Review, Third Wednesday, Minimus, Buffalo Spree (97), Folio, The Potomac Review, Musings, Potato Eyes and others. Glimmer Train named a recent story as Honorable Mention in the November 2012 Short Story Awards for New Writers. Winner of the 2011 Roanoke Review Fiction Award, her stories have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, Best American Short Stories, a Pen/O’Henry award and a recent story was a finalist in the 2013 Phoebe Fiction Contest; another was a 2012 finalist in the “So To Speak” Fiction Contest. She is working on two collections of short stories while shopping for a publisher for a completed story collection. She has nonfiction publications in Trajectory and Pen-in-Hand. She writes a weekly blog of “Reflections” on the writing life and posts regular interviews with writers and publishers.   Learn more at or

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