Yes. I am of the opinion that writers are like rodent-ish creatures with leathery wings, sharp teeth, and rabies.
Okay, so maybe not the rabies.
I’m kind of winging it here (Get it? Winging it? Hahaha.), because when I first came up with the idea for this post, I was just drifting off to sleep. “Writers = bats” popped into my head. I woke up enough to grab the nearest writing utensil — which happened to be my iPhone — and “scribbled” something that would later jumpstart me into writing a coherent blog post.
The note I “scribbled” took the form of an email I sent to myself with the subject line “writers are like bats. pinging.”
My Computer Comprehension. Let Me Show You It.
Unfortunately, the body of the email remained blank. And “writers are like bats. pinging” is not quite enough to send a power surge of writerly inspiration through my brain. However, one works with what one’s got.
“Pinging” gives me a clue as to what I was thinking. (I’m sure you computer gurus are going to squirm uncomfortably in your seats at what I’m going to say next, but I’m sorry — it can’t be helped.) My understanding is that a “ping” is kind of like a computer’s version of a Facebook “poke”:
Computer A sends a signal to Computer B…
…(i.e. Computer A “pokes” Computer B) to see if Computer B is paying attention.
If B is paying attention, B sends a signal back to say,
“Yeah, I felt your poke. Dude.”
If I didn’t get that right, you computer gurus are welcome to tell me about it. 😉
The Return to High School Biology
Whether I got it right or not, my concept of pinging reminds me of how I understand a bat’s echolocation works.
The bat makes an ultrasonic noise that bounces off of objects and other animals, specifically the bat’s prey. The bat analyzes the echoes that bounce back; this lets the bat decide whether or not those tiny flying things right there are yummy insects or not.
Facebook-style poking: I poke you to get your attention — will you poke me back?
Chiropteral echolocation: I make a noise at you — are you edible?
Writerly sharing: I show you my work — will you give me feedback?
From Ping to Publish
I do believe, gentle readers, that this is what my almost-asleep brain was trying to tell me when I made the frantic grab for my iPhone in the dark and typed an email subject line that didn’t make a whole lot of sense:
When we writers share our work with beta readers, we’re asking them to give our project attention.
We’re asking them to read and analyze it, then communicate their resulting thoughts to us.
We’re sending a signal, hoping to get one back.
The same applies when we finally get our work published. A writer’s published novel is the writer’s attempt to ping, poke, and echolocate the world. Readers’ feedback consists of opinions, concerns, complaints, and, we desperately hope, enjoyments. These responses, these echoes, these answering pings let us know the shape of the world around us.
If we know the shape of our world, we have more reference points for relating to the world.
When we writers share our work, we find out what and where the world is. And that helps us know who we are.
Perhaps most importantly, echolocating our readers lets us know whether or not you are edible. ; )
Fellow writers, what do you say? Do you feel like a peckish, pinging mammal with leathery wings?
What have been your best/worst experiences getting feedback from readers?
Fellow readers, what do you say? Do you feel pinged?
What have been your best/worst experiences giving feedback?