A few days ago I had a friend come to me in despair and grief because of what they termed a ‘medicinal critique’ that they first considered ‘bad’. This critique really messed with my poor friend’s head and they were very willing to admit this to me if not to the world in general. This friend was ready to up and quit the whole process of writing they were so devastated.
Now I have seen this time and again from students of mine in the thirty-four years I was a pro educator and in the twenty-five I have been a writer struggling through that sea of rejections up to professional publication. (The banner for this post is the cover for the first market ever I sold to back in 2010 and that first sale was an amazingly fortunate one to the Magazine of F&F. Please note that before this I had written more than five ‘practice’ books and a bunch of short stories all of which were rejected for various reasons.)
Because of my dear friend’s need I have had the chance to really explore my own feelings on the nature of critique and how I waded through that sea of critiques and rejections, and later a sea of expert editorial advice. I asked pros in the publishing industry how they deal with critique and got some amazing responses which I hope to share with you.
Because this topic is huge, I’m going to do two blog posts. The first will talk about the positive nature of critique, and how this can be mistaken for disabling response.
Why am I qualified to do this? I have thirty-four years behind me as an educator helping creative students who disbelieved in their own creativity. Many of these former students now hold important positions as artists, actors, designers and mentors themselves. I have spied some of them on the big screen, some are newscasters, TV personalities I have even spied former students on Netflix series.
As a writer of fiction I have written and worked my way up to recognizable professional status in the publishing industry. I know a lot of pros out there who have given me feedback on critique at conferences and in professional online forums. I have critiqued and been critiqued hundreds of times. I have mentored new writers in critiquing sessions and been a guest pro at a number of genre writing conferences.
In accord with the way I do things (ie: starting with the positive first) I want to start the next blog post a positive tangent by discussing the benefits of critique, how critique forms a very real part of our daily lives and how the idea of critique does not have to have a negative connotation in our heads.
I hope you’ll come back to check these out. Please tell me how you deal with critique. Is critique a source of irritation to you day to day or can you soldier on without losing your cool and what allows you to do so? I’d love to hear what you say.
Until next time. Keep creating.