Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Embracing a Critique

They call him “The Eviscerator.” A fellow member of the writing group when I joined. He was the one I feared when I began to turn in my simple memoir pieces.
     Bleeding red ink like a nightmare from your most sadistic English teacher, each piece returned on critique night.
     The dread which filled the writer lasted until the material was read and reviewed. Harsh but knowledgeable. His comments improved and strengthened each piece.
     Not all of the other members critiqued in the same manner. Rarely did anyone else use a red pen. But all made comments designed to add, enhance, clarify and improve whatever projects they touched.
     To ignore these notes and comments was to refuse the education, experience and wisdom the mentors could present. A college degree from the School of Real Life.
     These beta readers examine your work and provide feedback. Relatively unbiased feedback. While they may be your friends, they are writers who understand you can only b.s. people so far. They offer suggestions, identify weaknesses and support your ideas.
     At the same time, they offer work for you to critique. Allowing you to see issues in others it is difficult to find in yourself. But you learn from them. Their collective energy becomes a boost to your work.
     So, embrace being critiqued. And expect (and offer) more than ‘I loved it’. Enjoy the questions, comments and revisions. You too could be receiving a classic red lashing from the famed pen.
                                                            —Sandy Buxton

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