Monday, February 16, 2015

Sharing "The Helping Hand"

Last week, I shared by essay "The Helping Hand" with anyone on Facebook who was willing to read. I had done this before with my own personal blog so sharing on social media wasn't foreign to me.  I have also done some individual sharing before but mostly with family members.  Specifically asking someone outside of my family to read my writing was a little intimidating.

I had a really close friend my last year of high school and we went through a lot of ups and downs together.  Once I came to BYU, we slowly drifted apart due to distance, disagreements and such. Yet, in the past few months I have tried really hard to reconnect.  For the past few years my friend has struggled with the church, girls, family, etc. and I have felt impressed to offer my support lately.
He will soon be starting school and often asks me about my classes.  This weekend I told him about this class, Latter Day Saint literature, and asked if he would read my essay and offer some feedback. I asked him to consider these aspects:
  • what did you like/dislike about the story?
  • What did you like/dislike about the writing?
  • What are some suggestions to make this essay better?
  • Did the religious aspect seem out of place, abrupt or not thoroughly explained
Here was his response and I was very surprised and thankful for his honest answers:
His compliments:
I loved the humor throughout, it definitely kept me interested.  Your voice comes through and I liked the imagery you used (the Egyptian princess was especially good).  I thought it flowed well and the story really supported your main point
His suggestions:
I think there is a better way to end your entry than "Another girl lied down on the dirt path and began picking her headstone".  I think this particular quote could have place somewhere else in the body of your essay but I think right at the end kind of takes away from your point sort of muddling the closing.
As for "Maybe I am overreacting but that's how it felt at the time", it seems like an unnecessary addition. I feel like you sold the agony of the hike so well and with such good imagery, if you say something like that its like your admitting you are not sold on how tough it was yourself.  You have to own it.
He has never like writing and I remember editing some of his English papers in high school.  I enjoyed seeing how the roles reversed and hearing the great advice he had to offer.  The suggestions he gave wouldn't have crossed my mind.  I thought my ending was clever and didn't realize how it might detract from the essay.  I thought my line about overreacting added to the humor but rather it seemed to have taken away from my experience.  Overall, this was a good building block for my ability to share with others and also a good building block for a friendship being rekindled.


  1. That's really cool that you asking for help allowed you to reconnect with an old friend. I love it when suggestions from others add improvements that we didn't think about, but can see are necessary and helpful.

  2. I, too, have had the disconcerting (but ultimately helpful) experience of finding that readers see something completely different in something I'd written than I'd seen it it. Usually I grumble about it. But what's the point of stubbornly refusing to change or clarify for my readers if I'm writing for my readers in the first place? So then I make a change and am glad about it later. :) Oh, the joys of revision....

  3. That's awesome he was able to find things you hadn't thought of. I think this kind of feedback is helpful because it opens up our eyes to a new perspective on our writing because we aren't going to see those things since we are already so immersed in our own words.

  4. I'm glad you were able to share with him. He's a smart, good person, and it is cool to see him giving you good feedback, especially since it was on sections that you wouldn't have though about before. Now I want to go read it.