|The author, Dane F. Baylis|
GOING ONE STEP BEYOND
CROWD SOURCING YOUR CRITIQUES ISN'T WORTH THE PAPER THEY'RE WRITTEN ON.
Isn't being a writer on the Internet so spiffy? You never have to deal with anyone face to face. You can throw anything you want up, at any stage of development. Then you can sit back and wait for all the praise. Doesn't it give you such a warm snugly feeling to know there are so many writers out there, so unsure of their own abilities and talent, that you get praise heaped on you for whatever you do? Then, later on, you can do the same for them, and, if somebody does mention any little shortcoming, why you can just point to all those glowing comments you received, like, "Great", "Wish I'd thought of that", or the ever satisfying, "Touching" with one finger, while flourishing another at the screen.
Here's a little test, mostly dealing with perception and comprehension. The next time you post something creative, ask the first three commenter's what it was they found so stirring in your work. Don't be surprised if the answers come off a bit like, "Uh, well, um, you know, the words were, like, pretty and kind of uplifting."
Now, when someone does say something critical, instead of pointing defensively to all your glowing reviews from Mrs. Darwinkle's third grade class, ask the critic what they mean. Likely you will get something a bit more substantive than, "It, like, didn't really touch me, I mean, there was no back beat, you probably couldn't dance to it." Perhaps you will get the, "I just don't like poetry", "Gothic novels aren't my thing", or "I'm more of a historical fiction type", and these are worth the time it took to type them. But, you also might find yourself in a serious, and informative, discussion of art and craft.
Take it from someone who has sat through a number of workshops as a participant and a facilitator. All the empathetic drooling will not make you a better writer. It's all about the work. After the initial burst is done, it's time to rewrite and revise. A good editor is priceless at that point.
So, what's a good editor? One who will respect your message and emotion but be willing to tell you when something is just plain wrong. A great editor is one who will compel you to want to improve the piece and offer you multiple avenues for accomplishing that.
The editor you should hope to find is the one who, despite all the horror stories, is not trying to make your work theirs, but is trying as hard as they can to make your work the best you are capable of. One who will sit through all your artistic bullshit arguments and still be willing to work with you because you know a little more than how to spell that word.This doesn't happen immediately. It is a process that could take a great deal more time than the original writing.
So, the next time you post, and someone takes exception to your genius, ask them why? Sure, you may walk away thinking, "What the hell was that? That person really didn't get it!" Or you might just find yourself in an alliance that produces a level of artistry you didn't think you were capable of. But then, this is just my humble opinion.
Meanwhile...live, love, write.
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Dane F. Baylis