Saturday, January 24, 2009

Scathing Review for ‘The Waiting Room’

OK, so my wife was right about The Waiting Room—I hate it when she’s right. She did confide in me that the story sucked, which was what I had hoped someone would say if they didn’t catch the subtleties I intended, but what she did not do was to ask herself why someone would write such a story and let others read it, which does nothing for my self-esteem, by the way. I’ve re-read the story without the perspective of knowing the subtleties around which I wrapped it. I find that I cannot separate myself from it completely, but feel confident in saying I missed the mark substantially.

Let me explain and perhaps you can suggest where I went astray. The story hinges upon the doctor’s names, which in hindsight is probably one of my mistakes. In Greek, Poneros is defined as ‘evil’; not simply someone who acts to cause pain, but a state of evil that perpetuates itself (the devil) and conversely Soter is defined as savior. If I had been able to plant that seed I think the story would have taken on a different meaning, the one I intended.

In the interest of better writing, and more clearly conveying concepts within a story, perhaps you can suggest improvements.

9 comments:

Jo A. T.B. said...

I can say one thing Dan, that my husband doesn't really like my poetry either. I always say everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Plus he doesn't write!~

I honestly didn't know about the doctors names, and their meaning! Sometimes a lot slips over my head, especially if I have to read into something I don't always get it! Your wife may be a better critique than I.

I do believe you write in a very intelligent and descriptive manner. It's not like we're making millions either, all in fun and the more you write the better you get. The reason why I liked your story, was that it had a human element, and I could relate to it!

I did win a contest once, a substantial amount for an essay! So I can always refer to that! Don't be too hard on yourself. Sorry this is long! :)

Jo Janoski said...

I love the story in that it is vivid, scary, and intense. Everyone loves an asylum story. ;) But I must admit, the ending left me scratching my head. It didn't feel like an ending because I didn't know the meaning of the names. I think it would be true to your purpose if you expanded in the middle with a more ambitious tug and pull of the doctors to get her. I would even be so open as to insert the descriptions 'good' and 'evil' in intense dialogue to subliminally pound the point home. Just my thoughts...

terrymcdermott said...

My dad and some of my friends think some of my stuff is strange. Anyway I like your stuff.

paisley said...

well,, i think your wife has never really looked poneros in the eye... had she she would have enjoyed and identified with the waiting room as much as i did...

Dan said...

Thanks to all for taking the time to comment, and Jo J for your suggestions. As I wrote this I re-worded and omited several things when I felt it was becoming too obvious. I enjoy writing simply because of what it is, but I also want to steadily improve. Thanks

Bob said...

Dan, I think the references were a bit too obscure to be generally understood. Face it, readers are lazy, and it reflects as much on us as it does on the writer. You tried to enlighten us, to give us something that didn't insult us with its banality and we weren't sharp enough to pick up on it. That doesn't necessarily mean that you have to write 'down' to your audience, but a quick edit of your thought processes might identify problems before you publish. I admit that my writing often suffers from the same sort of problem-- sometimes I give my readers the benefit of the doubt regarding their overall education, and end up with the exact problem that you currently exhibit. It can be extremely perplexing, particularly when an easy solution doesn't immediately present itself. Still, I commend you for the effort, it shows you were thinking out of the box. By all means, don't abandon the approach or similar thought processes... innovation is a hallmark of good writing and, I, for one, commend you. But, then again, my writing has been 'out there' for so long that I no longer know any other way to do it, so maybe I should just shut up. Keep after it, Dan, it's not that bad.

cordieb said...

Actually, I identified with it completely; although I didn't know the meaning of the names. . . your characteration of the doctors told me this. I'm not a critic. . . but I feel the story was impactful and quite interesting as written.

Dan said...

Bob, you're like E.F.Hutton, if you remember the slogan. How dated does that make me, or us I suppose??

Cordie, you're a peach!

Nan J said...

I don't ever show my stuff to my husband... I'd be devastated if he didn't like it and ticked off at the same time because he's not a reader so, hey, "what does he know about it anyway!" lol

But that said, I agree with what Jo J said--vivid, scary, intense. But without knowing what the doctors' names meant, the ending left me going, "and....???"

I also like her thoughts about expanding the tug and pull of the doctors on the patient, and to keep that elusive "respect for the readers' intelligence" going, since we can't all be Greek scholars ... maybe incorporate some other more generally familiar but not terribly obvious symbolism for good and evil, perhaps even from the patient's viewpoint in her confused state of mind? It seemed as though there was perhaps a good deal of things (the dark feel of the waiting room for example, his nasty way of speaking, his uncaring attitude)that made one feel the "evil" of Dr P, but not so much for Dr S. Dr S felt less strongly characterized than Dr P--and therefore seemed almost an afterthought despite taking her away from that terrible place and saying the things he said to her. If anything, he should at once outweigh Dr P in the story, and yet feel lighter and less obvious... Oy... am I making any sense??

Just thinkin' out loud, here.