The last incarnation of my blog would be what some would call a “Mommy Blog,” this one not so much.
With this one, I wanted to take the focus off my family – with older teens and now fledgling adults, they didn’t want their private lives becoming not so private. Instead, I wanted this place to be where I could explore more creative outlets – my writing and photography.
Aside: Giving proper credit to other writers and photographers is a serious concern of mine. If I use a quote, I give attribution… always. If there is no little squiggly tilde preceding someone else’s name, then the passage within quotation marks is my creation. Because it’s a common problem finding the name of an original artist, I limit photos here to mine. This blog is my showcase and I’m a smidge proprietorial. That is why I shy away from writing prompts that offer a photograph, or other potentially copyrighted material, as inspiration. Even if there is attribution, I’m still leery of whether the artist has approved of its use in that way.
With this space serving as a writer’s journal, I wanted to find a community of like-minded people, and I’ve done that. There are so many wonderful, online writing groups. I’ve only scratched the surface, but I also think I’ve tapped into a few of the best ones. (Peruse the list of links near the bottom of my sidebar and I think you’ll agree.)
I’ve built what I feel are true friendships with other group members, and have learned a lot from them as writers. They are my go-to, my “phone-a-friend,” when I’m having problems with plot, characters, or grammar… especially grammar.
We critique each others writing, and stroke each other’s wanna-be-author egos. Some few have even grabbed that golden ring, and have published their proses and poetry. It’s very cool to dive into that resource pool.
I join in the ‘atta boys” but have a more difficult time with the “what were you thinkings.” My ability to critique someone else’s writing is equally proportional to my ability to accept it without whining about a negative appraisal. I don’t call ‘foul” here, but you should hear my inner critique of the critiques…. well, maybe you shouldn’t.
Many times I’ll read a submission for a writing prompt, and be totally confused by it, not having any idea what the writer’s trying to say. Reading the other comments often doesn’t give me any clues. As much as I want to leave a “what the hell?” response, I don’t. I consider the problem mine, that I am just incapable of analyzing the profound metaphorical meaning, or spontaneous abstract concept. I don’t think my personal preference should be criteria for critique.
Other times the abundance of typos and misspellings is a serious distraction, but I can decipher the intent. I don’t leave a comment about spell-checker or editing because I worry it could be embarrassing. Same thing with grammar errors or malapropism. If they are like me, these issues become glaringly obvious the split second they hit “publish.”
There are times when I don’t think anything I could say would be helpful. I either leave no comment, or if authors have a “Like” button on their site, I click to let them know I was there and read the post. I wonder sometimes if a few of my commenters wouldn’t be better served by doing the same. I’ve received a few responses that leave me wondering if they even read my post.
Perhaps, I’m doing my writing coterie a disservice by not giving entirely honest, constructive, assessments. I don’t tell them I like something they’ve written, if I actually don’t. It’s just, that sometimes, I only mention the positive, even if there are issues that took away from my reading experience.
There are no Rules of Engagement, and that is my dilemma. How do I give negative reviews, as in 1) I don’t think that word means what you think it means; 2) I’m completely flummoxed by what you’re trying to say here; 3) there are two Ss in “misspell,” … without it coming across as condescending or exceedingly nitpicking?
What are your rules for offering constructive criticism? Do you point out poor typing skills or word use? Do you say straight out, “I have no earthly idea what you meant by the yellow bat eating oatmeal while sitting on a stuffed pony.” Do you let personal preference seep into your critique or try to remain objective? If the post is in response to a writing prompt, do you take the time to find out what the submission parameters are, and form your critique accordingly? How honest are you with your honest feedback?
*I have been pondering on this for some time, so please… no one comment or single incident prompted this post.