Tuesday, May 29, 2012

An Unusual Gift

Today is my birthday. The number of candles would set that cake ablaze if there were one for each year I've celebrated. I love birthdays, my own and other peoples' too. It's the most special day of the year, all your own. And who doesn't like to receive that extra bit of attention via cards, phone calls, emails, and even a few gifts.? 

It's an unusual gift that I'd like to tell you about today. I received it two days ago, but I considered it an early birthday present. A writer friend sent me a lengthy critique of a personal essay I'd submitted to my online writers group. She sent it to me privately, not through the group. She told me about all the things that were wrong with it and she backed up her thoughts with concrete reasons. 

It's true that no one likes to be shown where they went wrong, but when I receive a critique, I try to look at it in a positive way. I know that this critiquer is trying to help me make an essay about something dear to my heart as good as it can possibly be. It's one I hope to enter in a contest.

I read through the very lengthy email and decided it needed my undivided attention, so I closed it and went back to it the next morning. I read through it, paragraph by paragraph, trying to absorb the comments bit by bit. I realized several things when I finished. Mr friend is very insightful. She picked out little things that others who had critted this piece missed altogether. She backed up her criticisms with sound advice. She did it all with kindness and even paid me a much-appreciated compliment. 

I wrote to her almost in equal length as to what she'd sent me. I thanked her for putting me on a good revision path and told her that her compassionate, honest and helpful critique was most assuredly something I considered as an early birthday gift. Not all birthday presents are wrapped and tied with a pretty ribbon.

If you get a critique on a poem or story that points out a great many needed revisions, don't be upset. Be thrilled that someone is there to help you make a good piece of writing a much better one.


  1. It can be hard to receive a critique of your writing, but in my experience a thoughtful, in-depth review is far better than comments like "that's nice," "I like it" - pleasant but useless!

  2. Happy birthday! Critiques can be hard to digest, so it's often easier for me if I take it in bits and pieces. I actually think the more input, the better. If a reviewer only gives me a few comments, I figure they really didn't care for it and didn't want to put in the effort to make it worthwhile. ;-)

  3. Beautiful, Nancy. Critiques truly are gifts. I'm thankful for every single one! Good luck with your rewrites -- and HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Hugs to you.

  4. Happy Birthday! Bend the world to your will and make the day your own. And eat cake!