Feedback: Oh no! – Guest Post by Kay Phillips

 

By guest blogger (and 2017 ONSTAGE semi-finalist) Kay Phillips

 

It’s a Saturday in 1993, Mom let you borrow the Ford Taurus and you’re cruising. Sun out, windows down, headed to the mall. With a hopeful heart, you tune the radio to KISS 102.7 hoping to catch that new Ace of Base, it’s-

FEEDBACK.

Ugh. That sizzling, sonic pork fat that screams “nope” in the most obnoxious way possible.

In the writing world, feedback can be a crapshoot. But far too often, I’ve found it similar to that sketchy radio reception. I send out hopes, dreams and effort only to receive noise in return. Not so with the ONSTAGE Peer Review process and here’s why.

First, the ONSTAGE readers are my peers. Womenfolk. Ladies. Not a group of dudes mansplaining what they’re sure I meant to say or flat-out dismissing my work altogether because they don’t “get it.”

Second, there are rules. From jump, Tiffany Antone lays down the law: “…the comments section is an opportunity for you to give *helpful* and constructive feedback to the playwright, or to make notes to us about the script’s running time/sensitive nature/requirement…

“It is not a place for you to practice your snark.”

Yes, honey. YES. I’ve read for several playwriting competitions and let me just say, the level of snark from my fellow readers never ceases to amaze. As a reader, if a piece rubs me the wrong way, it’s my job to let the writer know why. What about that character didn’t ring true? At which point did I lose interest? Comments like “Yuck!” and “What the hell did I just read?” serve no-one. Nobody’s requiring thesis-level analysis, but we owe the writer a modicum of specificity.

Like moms have been telling toddlers for generations: use your words.

Otherwise, it’s just noise.

I’ve been submitting to ONSTAGE for years. Some years I’m accepted and the news is sweet. Totally triumphant, fist-in-the-air Ace of Base moments. Other years, the news is, well… Vengaboys. But it’s always, always news I can use.

 

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