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 of 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, the people who review, and the person who is being reviewed. Of course, there may be pitfalls in any endeavour we embark upon, and reviewing is no exception. We writers are a passionate lot, always putting 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, all be it well meaning, can easily be taken personally, instead of the way, in most cases, it is intended to be...to help us become better at this art.
Opinions are the variable here. Is the painting this, or is it that? Beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder and the mechanics of writing aside, this is where the reviewer needs to tread carefully because if the opinion we give is narrow-minded, it can lead to the piece not being given the credit it may deserve. And on the other hand, treating it with kid gloves by not pointing out the flaws which all novice writers are guilty of, is doing them no 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 mistakenly 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.
There will always be people who review, who do not necessarily have the best of interests of the person being reviewed at heart, and instead, do so with a degree of malice. If someone has had a particularly bad day at work or are simply not nice people, they may take this out on others. This is not a common thing from my experience (although I am sure it has happened to me at least once) and it is up to the person who is being reviewed to accept the fact that if we are willing to put ourselves out there on a public forum, there is the chance of this kind of thing happening.
Another thing to take into consideration is this...if I were to put a piece of writing in front of one hundred different people for each to review, for sure, there will be one hundred different opinions put forth, and the bottom line is that we cannot please all the people all of the time. And so, any changes we make, going by the reviews we are given, must be carefully considered because we are not them, and if we were, as in this example, to make all the changes recommended by these one hundred people, there would be little left of our own art. And the irony is that if we were to then put this new piece of writing in front of another one hundred people? I think you can get what I am saying.
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.
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, that it can also be so much fun.