I was happily overwhelmed with concert prep and beloved house guests recently.  On Friday, the Singer’s Circle, a group of soloists with whom I am privileged to perform, gave its first Christmas concert. I put on my fancy dress, had a blast singing and fraternizing with my fellow singers, and went home happy. Then, this review started circulating. Wow! One of those audience members – perhaps one of the many who conducted along with the Hallelujah chorus? – gave us a rave review.

Performance gown

My singing garb – It’s twirly!

As a singer, one enjoys mingling after performances to hear that one’s voice has helped heal the hearer. Perhaps the audience lauds the vocal power, or expresses being riveted by the performance, or simply asks when one will perform again. But what they mean is that, despite the singer’s limitations, she has managed the priestly act of manifesting the healing grace that is music. When I hear that they heard music, I feel affirmed and encouraged.

But when I read someone talking about my abilities, well, that was like plum pudding, y’all. I won’t lie. It made me smile to hear my singing so described. Ms. McKerlie, the reviewer, said, “The coloratura soprano mastery of Summer Kinnard shone through in a duet with van Lidth of “Panis Angelicus,” a lovely, soaring descant feature in “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” and “O Holy Night,” which she sang as a powerful, virtuosic solo.” Did I care that the one time I forgot to proofread the inside of the program to make sure my name was spelled correctly, the alt version of Kinard showed up in a review? No, I did not. I was too busy wooting.

Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, or maybe just because I have worked so dang hard at singing these past few years, but seeing those encouraging words really gave me a lift. Feedback in person at the concert is wonderful and uplifting, and I get to talk with strangers about our mutual love of music. But I’m also exhausted and wearing uncomfortable shoes. Painful feet don’t overcome my gratitude, of course, but I think I only really hear those kind words through recall, after my senses have rested a bit.

Which of us is photobombing?

Day after concert level of dignity.

I think there’s a parallel phenomenon with writing. I have just come through the test reader phase of editing, which involves receiving specific feedback on the penultimate draft of the manuscript. The goal is to find and smooth out any remaining rough patches in the story. Or, as happened with me, to point out a few spots where I had failed to delete an entire sentence during previous rounds of editing, yielding gems of sentences that ended in “at” or had transposed adjectives. The feedback was all very useful, although the type of help varied between readers. In all cases, my immediate response was similar to that after a concert: Thank you!

Thank you for reading, thank you for thinking about my characters, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I imagine that the sense of completion once the book is published will make the reviews more poignant as well.

I know that not all reviews are positive, but I’m going to keep on wooting when they are. If a reader catches a glimpse of healing grace, that’s something to rejoice about!