Wednesday, October 23, 2013
When a bunny reader just won't do
What's so great about a critique group? When I first started writing toward publication, I met with a fantastic writing group in Pittsburgh every Monday evening. I still can't believe I managed to get there almost every week. Most weeks I brought something new for critique. Not only did I gain practical insight into my own work, learning how to strengthen and improve it. I also gained editing skills: how to quickly take in a piece of writing, and then with kindness but objectivity give specific ideas for revision.
More recently, I have less time to meet with other writers, but when I do I always feel the benefits. On Monday, I took three short poems for critique. The first two focused on nonfiction topics--one about a moth, and the other about a kind of fish. The other writers probed deeper--what does the fish eat? what is the genus of the moth? Clearly, I needed to do more research, and they called me on it in a kind way.
The last poem was a bit of a mess because it was still in its early stages. I always ask for someone else to read my work because I have the cadence in my mind, but don't know how it translates to another reader. This one totally flopped. What I heard in my mind was not at all what was on the page. So back to the drawing board I went with this poem.
Here's why I love a good critique: I may have an idea about what's missing, what needs more work, or a general sense of something not quite right. But usually someone else is able to pinpoint and verbalize what that is. I am too close to my own work to always be able to identify what's wrong. An objective reader can help.
So thank you to all of my fellow writers I've met with over the years. Your insights and kindness have sustained me and helped my writing to grow and improve!