I have this hummingbird piece that I feel is almost there. And I want it to be there before I send it off to Orion. I don't have a workshop yet, so I have asked a few writers to look it over. Some have responded in detail, some less so.
My first in-depth response suggested a pretty substantial re-write: to include myself more, and less "unusual" nature terminology. The reader felt that the mystery of nature isn't enough to keep another reader engaged--or at least it doesn't seem to be within my power to make it interesting on its own. This is a fear that I have about every piece of nature-based writing that I undertake.
I was bummed out, but as it was the only feedback I had to go on, I started trying to figure out how to make an essay that was supposed to be about pollination into an essay about me. Trying doesn't hurt anything. And this reader put a great deal of effort into their comments. I was hugely appreciative of the attention, and wanted to make the most of it.
And then I got notes from a second reviewer. This reviewer felt I was in the essay just enough, that there was a theme of "assumptions about nature in peril" and great details. However this reader felt that my arc was too diffuse. Reader number 2 suggested bringing more focus to themes that are already in the piece. This is often a problem in my essays.
So, what do I do? Two opposite views. I'd like some formula or rule of thumb that will allow me to take the "easier to swallow" feedback or know that if it's easier to take it's the wrong feedback. How do you know when to take comments and when to leave them? Is it some kind of esoteric "feeling"? (I hope not.)