I wanted to share the fact that having friends who write and who can give constructive criticism of your own work, are the best of all friends. When I first began my MA in Creative Writing, not only was I rubbish at giving feedback, I wasn’t very good at taking it. The latter still applies (sometimes) as it is not easy to be told something is lacking in your work.
A couple of weeks ago, in a general Teams chat, I was given a bit of a slap from a tutor. He told me that he thought my poem, ‘lacked articles and personal pronouns,’ was, ‘amateurish’ and ‘could have been written by an undergraduate.’ To his credit, he was at pains to tell me he knew nothing about poetry, (why bother to comment you might ask?) As you can imagine I was hurt. I turned to my friends, who were supportive with encouraging comments. They liked my poem and maybe just a couple of changes would make it even better. I then turned to my poetry tutor who, without telling me the poem was amazing or crap, gave me some sound advice and I quote:
“I wouldn’t worry too much about what you might perceive as negative criticism. It is always tough to take, but nearly always has something of use you can take from it. I learned years ago to wait until my emotional reaction to criticism had died down before using it to improve my work. In the end, people may have different qualifications to critique, but everyone’s opinion has some merit.”
I think I’m going to print this out and frame it.
Back to writing buddies. Too many of them, and you become confused. You need just enough to give varied, subjective opinions. Listen to everything all of them have to say, and if there are similarities in their comments then those are the ones of which to take note. I have settled on around six friends whose work I respect and consequently I respect their opinions.