As a writer, feedback on my work is vital whether it be a professional article for a trade magazine, or a short story simply scribbled for pleasure.
As a trainer, critique is equally important. Not only the critique of my own skills of mentoring, teaching and instructing, but my ability to provide valuable, pertinent feedback, comments and suggestions to those I instruct.
Critique is a two sided coin. Receiving and giving. Like a coin, the sides are conjoined and related, indivisible and intrinsic. As such, to know how to receive critique also allows insight in how to give it and vice versa.
Most people do not want to tell somebody they are doing something wrong. It is difficult to read something someone else has written and tell them it stinks! It is hard to watch an arboricultural student revert back to old habits and then tell them there are better, safer, more efficient ways.
The more valuable the feed back the harder it seems to give. The harder it seems to take. However, not all feedback is created equal. Many people, many critics, in all facets of life, from literary, to photography, to training, have an voice on what you do, create or teach. Ferreting out the good from the worthless is the challenge.
Here is a link to an interesting article on a blog I enjoy reading. In it David duChemin offers sound advice for choosing critique/critics of your work. Although David speaks specifically about critique in the photography world, the medium does not change the advice or technique.
The lesson to be learned from how to select and choose your critics applies to giving critique. Are you respected in the field, topic, genre you are critiquing? What specifically did you like or dislike? Can you give concrete examples? Critique, to be accurate and valuable, must be grounded. Sure the overall comment might be “that story seemed unrealistic.”
The value comes from telling the writer the character’s actions were predictable, the words he or she used seemed trite and canned. Telling the author there was not enough detail to fill in the blanks of the story. These are comments an artist can take to heart and either work on or dismiss. Look at critique as a means to point out specifics, not give over all opinion. Judgements are grounded. Opinion is just unsubstantiated thought.
Seek people in your life that offer judgements, not opinion. Don’t choose them because you agree with what they say, or have a good opinion about them or their work. Choose to listen to them because you can offer their contributions sound judgements as well.
With all the talk of critique let me that all of you who have read Free Falling and written reviews. Your feed back is appreciated and valuable. For those that have commented to me personally, thank you as well. Authoring a book is a bit like watching a child grow. When the book finally gets out in the world you hope the best for it, but are never certain if you did your job well or not unless others tell you so!
For those of you that have not read it, or perhaps you want another copy! I have some here I would love to send you! I wish I could offer a super deal or some fantastic promotion. Alas, I cannot. Self Publishing is no road to riches. It is however a wonderful way to share my view, my voice!
What I can do if offer you a autographed, personally inscribed copy sent to you for $12.00. A bit more than you could get it from Amazon, but the only way to get one with my personal thanks written in ink!
Hell of a deal I know, but marketing is not my strong suit , but I am trying! That price includes shipping and makes the whole deal break even. See, no road to riches! Not to mention, as I have heard so many times in the last few weeks, Just In Time For The Holidays!
If you are interested, comment below or feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can work out the details from there.
Thank you so much for your time,