by Dr Gonzo
Talks about writer's block, reviewing & critique & what benefits truth may bring to us all
|For me, writing is a fickle thing I have little control over. I can 'try to write' when this writer within me is AWOL, but, in the event my more talented friend has abandoned his post, I, by my lonesome, am average at best...and even that is being kind. But when the writer is back in town and in the mood, the words flow like a torrent. It's as if I'm riding the whitewater to creativity...too engaged and having too much fun to notice how far or how much time has passed.
Accepting this has been a difficult thing to do, with many wasted hours typing absolute rubbish, but how else can I know unless I try? And once confirmed, it's not the end of the world because there are many other aspects to being a member of a writers site such as here on WDC.
If writing is out, there's always reviewing, which benefits us who review and the person being reviewed. Of course, there are pitfalls in any endeavour, and reviewing is no exception. Writers are a passionate lot, and we put our heart and soul into the work we produce. It's like the piece is an extension of our personality...of us, and any criticism can easily be taken personally, instead of the way, in most cases, it's intended to be...to help.
Opinions are the variable here. Is the painting this or is it that? Beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder and mechanics of writing aside, this is where the reviewer needs to tread carefully because if our opinion is narrow-minded, it can lead to the piece not being given the credit it may deserve...and perhaps treating a piece with kid gloves by not pointing out the flaws which all novice writers are guilty of, is not doing them any favours either.
So, how best to go about reviewing can be contentious indeed. Critique CAN be a good thing, but if the author cannot take the comments and use them to their advantage (by thinking it is a personal attack), it will be of no benefit whatsoever. We writers must learn to accept criticism, especially if we want to improve at a faster rate than if we just go it alone. If someone who reviews our work is willing to show us our flaws (as they see them), risk hurting someone's feelings, and risk being attacked themselves, we must understand that only someone who cares about us and our work would be willing to take that chance. Critique is essentially a gift, and one that not many here on WDC are given, where critique is missing for the most part.
Of course, we must acknowledge that it is a very tricky thing to do, and also, that a lot of writers here are novices, and may not deal well with the truth. And this for me, is the crux of the matter...the truth is the shortest path to understanding, and without complete honesty in the reviewing system, we could be missing out on a lot more than we know.
I think for many reviewers, there is a mindset of, "If I don't like it, I won't review it"...and this, given that management makes it clear we need to be kind, makes a lot of sense...for the reviewer...but for the person who wrote the piece, there is no gain whatsoever from this lack of input, and that is a result of the fear we all have to say, what in a lot of cases should...no, needs to be said. Otherwise we, as a community of like-minded people, who let's face it, all want to be the best we can be in this art, miss out on a real opportunity. We might fear loss by telling it like it is (or at least, how we see it) with friendships and relationships, but, everything we do (or don't do when it is called for ) has an effect, and unless we are willing to risk loss, then it is unlikely there will be any gain. Life is about taking risks, otherwise, we wouldn't get out of bed in the morning, which, unfortunately, also has its own risks.
I cannot choose when I will write...really write...but when I do and I feel and see the results of my efforts, by God, it is such an exhilarating and fun thing to do. All of the different facets of writing aside, I think we sometimes forget that writing is fundamental and key to who we are, connecting us with the past and to our future...but it can also be so much fun.