Constructive criticism

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When I was a youngster and writing my stories, I never edited, revised or rewrote. Never even occurred to me. Then in college I met my first critic; my English professor. I handed her a manuscript I was extremely proud of, which she promptly stabbed with red pen so much the poor manuscript looked like it was bleeding to death.

She LAUGHED at the most crucial, serious parts! She tore my poor little manuscript apart, and I felt like a proud new mother being told her baby was ugly. I was terribly hurt.

But I have toughened up since then (it’s been 35 years, for pete’s sake!). I understand the value of constructive criticism and appreciate the job my beta readers and editor have done for me.  I don’t think my old professor was being mean; she was just being an honest critic.

Which is something I hesitate to be among my writer friends. I know several fellow writers who have, like me, self-published, and I have cringed when I read some of their works. They are in desperate need of a good edit, but it’s not my place to edit their works. Instead, when they mention their new book just came out, I cheer them on while at the same time keeping my inner critic mute.

Does that make me dishonest? I know how it can hurt to have your writing critiqued. But I keep in mind not every self-published author is looking to win awards. Some authors just want to tell their own personal story, and the writing process is cathartic to them.  Poor grammar, misspellings, and bad sentence structure are not their focal points.

So while I welcome constructive criticism, not everyone does, And to keep the peace, I say nothing unless I am flat-out asked for my opinion.

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