Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Under the Magnifying Glass

When I was younger, I had a very hard time with criticism. I didn't have a vast sense of self-confidence for a lot of my formative years which is what I suspect the reasoning why criticism would leave me prone to wanting to hide under my blankets and cry.
   That being said, when it comes to my writing I love critique and feedback.

  Writer and poet Alyce Wilson posted a link to her latest blog entry entitled "Giving and Using Feedback". I know Alyce through non-profit organization volunteering and only recently learned she was an author/poet. What I loved about this article/blog post was how she talks about focusing critiques and when giving a critique or feedback. Understanding the type of piece it is, its intended audience, the author's goals, and are they achieving them are good things to keep in mind when someone offers something up for critique.
     To me it's not about pointing out extreme negatives, but seeing what is and isn't potentially working and making light of this so the author can improve their work.
    I know I'm not a perfect writer. I have confidence in my ability, but I don't get very lofty about it, sometimes I'm downright unsure or, well, see that Karen Eiffel head desk icon? Yes, its very apt for me, but when it comes to writing I have this as my feeling towards it, which is where feedback and critique comes in- It can always be better.
     Sometimes as a writer you can get pretty attached to your work, or sometimes you get unsure about a scene or a chapter. Does this really work? Is something off? What is it that's catching me up here or not working? Can this be better?
         I know it helps me a lot to have other pairs of eyes look things over and catch something I may not.
  I replied to her post (via Facebook as opposed to her blog) a shorter version of what I just said above, she replied that I had a very professional attitude about it. I might have squeed in joy a little bit. For someone who used to take criticism hard, to really see how far I've come in some aspect anyway with it is a nice feeling.
       I don't see a critique as being something that's intended to upset me, or tear my work to shreds and make me feel I suck as a writer. I see it as something very helpful intended to add that extra bit of polish to make it shine, to help it grow and flourish.
       Mind you, I'm talking about constructive crit and feedback. Things like "your writing sucks!" or "this is the dumbest story I've ever heard" are not either of these things are just unhelpful and rather mean. Though in the face of these sort of things, I'm the type of person who will counter with "Oh really? Then how do you think I can make it better?"
    Another thing to consider is, think about where who you are sending crit to for feedback. I find it works better for me to have my work critiqued by people who read/write in that particular genre because there are nuances that are particular to a genre. I have had people crit my work who give feedback, but confess in it they don't read that particular genre and aren't sure how useful the crit might be, or to find people who read/write in that genre to send it to for feedback. Granted, I always thank that person regardless for taking the time to look my work over, and most still provide valuable feedback.
  Sometimes though, its nice to have a genre-saavy person taking a looksies.

 So how do you all feel about feedback and critique and the give and take of it? Love it, know its necessary, dread it?
  Let us discuss! Comment away!

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