Monday, April 08, 2013

Grateful I Practiced

What Do You Do?My voice lesson canceled on Friday so all I had to do was meet Bill to see a movie and manage to get myself back home in time for grocery delivery.  Checking my email before I entered the cinema I saw a message from Amy Wilson, the director of NYC's Listen To Your Mother.

"Edits to your piece," was the subject line.

My stomach dropped, of course. Though my head knows that edits do not mean "evidence of your complete lack of talent" my stomach sticks her fingers in her ears and sings Henery The Eighth, I Am whenever you try to explain. Hiking up my big girl panties I chose a path right down the middle. I replied right away but lord knows if I had to dial the phone to get these evidences of...I mean, edits, I wouldn't ever do it. Smart as she is, Amy said she would call me if I would just tell her when. We set up a time and I crammed a bunch of cookies and a silly romantic comedy movie on top of my feelings.

The phone rang and I had my piece up on the laptop screen and my listening ears tuned high. I stumbled a little in the small talk because I was already in Fix It mode but I rallied and felt better and got ready. The thing is, she only had a couple of things to talk about. One of them was even something that had gone oddly in the read through so I was planning to ask her how to adjust it to get the response I wanted anyway.

Victory 1 I was left, not surprisingly, with a lot of gratitude. The piece isn't very different now but it's better. First of all I was grateful that Amy had taken the time to make these tiny tweaks to boost the readability of the essay and that her manner is so gentle and open. Second I was glad that I'd practiced for this moment. I had already sent this piece and many others to trusted groups of first readers. They had helped me tighten the work up and move some pieces around and they always ask at least one question that I never would have come up with. I've had the opportunity to hear things I agree with, things I wish I'd thought of myself, and things I absolutely don't agree with. Because I respect the people telling me stuff, I have had to be smart about both how I hear and how I respond to criticism. I'm not going to say I like it but...well....I kind of like it. To be able to feel safe saying to someone, "I wrote this and I love it but it wraps itself around a tree right about here and I don't know how to untangle it, do you?" is both a relief and a pleasure.

Talking with Amy Friday night I agreed with most of her thoughts. I was able to ask her about one tree wrapping moment. She gave me the freedom to cut something I didn't like but felt I needed to keep. There was one thing I didn't agree with and even that was just that I didn't agree with how she suggested solving it. So I took a second, re-arranged the bits in question, and came up with another solution. I read it back to her and we both agreed that it did what we both wanted it to do. I could never have heard, absorbed, analyzed, and worked with criticism that fast if I hadn't practiced.

I'm so glad I practiced. Now I'm even more excited than ever for you to see this show!


The New York City Listen To Your Mother Show is happening on May 12, 2013 at 5pm at Symphony Space. Ticket and venue information can be found here. I hope to see you there! If you aren't close to this show please check this site to see if there is a LTYM show near you.


  1. I've had the opportunity to hear things I agree with, things I wish I'd thought of myself, and things I absolutely don't agree with.
    Love that! I know you were talking about you. But good words.
    You are a stunning writer!