The Gifts of Critiquing

I came up with the idea for this post after my last my last one on Reviewing and Critiquing sort of exploded in a flurry of responses on G+ and this blog. Most of the comments were positive yet there was some debate. And that’s fine. Debate is healthy and everyone is allowed to have his or her own point of view and is free to share them. The purpose of this post is not to address any one of those comments specifically, but is more of a general response to the issue of writing and how we get from one place of skill and ability to another in regards to the role and import of reviewing/critiquing each other’s work. The issue got me heated up, like emotional. This surprised me. I mean, reviewing and critiquing aren’t emotional tasks. They’re analytical, involving critical thinking, right? But the more I considered the subject and let my fingers fly over the keys as I responded to comments, the more I started to connect with what writing means to me. I started to think about the journey I took to get here.

I started writing at a young age (6 years old) and did it simply because I loved it. Knowing how to put words together on a page in a way that entertained and communicated with people, just made sense to me. No one taught me, I just did it. I was also a voracious reader. Always had a book in one hand and two or three others tucked away in a pocket or schoolbag or something. As the years went by, I improved and wrote whatever I could, poems, short stories, plays, whatever. Still, all that history doesn’t mean that I got to where I am now by myself. Granted, I am not published by a publishing house, but based on the feedback I have had from publishers (one I turned down and the other refused my two books because they weren’t publishing fantasy at the time) and other good writers, I think I could be. Having a family and a fulltime job doesn’t make it any easier to commit a lot of time to querying and all that as I would like. I’ve sacrificed enough family time as it is just to get to where I am today.

But back to the point of this post. There was a span of about 10 years where I couldn’t write at all. Totally blocked. Not even a decent line or two of poetry, which used to flow out of me like water. By God’s grace, though, about three years ago that plug popped and I’ve been writing non-stop ever since. But I needed help. Whatever innate talent I may have had was still there, as were whatever fundamentals of the craft I had developed over the years, but I needed more. Support and encouragement. I needed to challenge myself and to be challenged. I even needed to hear those brutally harsh (but true) words (you know, the ones that make you want to hide under your chair and swear never write another word again!). The road was difficult but I regard each step as well worth it. Each one is a gift I received from being critiqued as well as being able to critique.  

Writing is a process of constantly improving, so by no means to I delude myself by thinking I have ‘made it.’ However, I can say that these last few years have enabled me to have the confidence to write what I want the way I want. I feel free to take chances and to try new things. I’m still reading articles, still testing myself in different genres and styles, as well as still critiquing other people’s work and receiving it. It all helps. Not to mention that I feel enriched by having engaged with other writers, which usually generates a kind of addictive synergy as well as renews my love of writing.

Anyway, there’s my ramble for the day. I’d love to hear feedback or comments. J

Have a great one.

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