My teeth grind like fingernails on a chalkboard when someone heaps unsolicited advice on me. So why do I have a section in my journal where I collect pithy bits of wisdom? Why is there a sagging shelf in my office stuffed with “how to” books on writing? Maybe it’s human nature to resent being shown our shortcomings… or maybe the problem is in having them pointed out by someone who appears to enjoy fault finding or feeling superior.
I am currently having one of my manuscripts critiqued by someone who is both a mentor and friend. She regularly apologizes for her suggestions but shouldn’t. Her advice is never mean spirited. I eagerly await her input knowing that her only goal is to help make my writing the best it can be.
Good critiquing is as much an art as good writing. Anyone with a modicum of editorial ability can go through a manuscript and highlight problems with its plot, characterization, structure and grammar. I believe it takes someone who has also experienced a writer’s journey — who has survived through the creation of her own fictitious world and thus understands the exhilaration and desperation that is a part of the process – to be able to offer advice in a way that is both helpful and welcome.
I am blessed with a mentor and “critter” of this caliber. I ask for her advice and am thankful for it. There’s no teeth grinding here! :)