What a day this has been. After all those comments I made last week about not putting off the critiques until the last minute, I haven’t been able to get around to doing them until today, even though I got the samples earlier than last week. And I’ve only been able to do one. The other one I haven’t even cracked open yet.
I admit I’ve really been putting off doing it because it’s just so tough. I want to be helpful, but fair, but honest, but constructive, but nice. This does not come to me naturally, y’all! (I can’t believe I just used that word.)
I noticed last week that a lot of people did their critiques and comments electronically, using the review options (track changes and comments) in Microsoft Word and then printing out the hard copies for the writers. The first of the two samples and the only one I’ve touched so far, the writer asked us to do it that way. I’m not sure if that slowed me down or if it would have taken me a long time anyway, but it took me three and a half hours to do my critique and comments on an 18 page sample. And that’s after having read the story last night.
There were a lot of technical problems with the story and some confusing points that slowed me down and I had to figure out how to comment on those in a positive and constructive way that still said, “You need to change these things.” It’s not easy!
In addition to that, I had actual work to do today and errands to run at lunch, and blogs piling up in my reader and my own mental blocks against doing this in the first place, all standing in the way, holding me back.
I just don’t want to do them. Not because I’m being lazy. I just don’t want to tell people I don’t even know what I think of their writing… but I want them to do it for me. And I want them to like what I’ve done and have only great things to say (which is probably too much to expect) and I want them to be supportive and encouraging. I don’t really believe in karma or good juju, or whatever. I just don’t. And yet, I do believe you get what you deserve. You get what you give. (That’s different, right?) So I’m doing the critiques and trying to be genuinely helpful in spite of my own insecurity and my fear of coming across more harshly than I mean to and hoping that they won’t, or that I won’t take it that way.
And so here we are on Tuesday night. I’ve done one critique and have another one to go and yet, twenty-three hours and forty-five minutes from now, I will already be in the work shop, either listening to what they thought of my sample, or telling them what I thought of theirs, and I haven’t even started on the last sample, yet.
No pressure here…