Some words elicit warm fuzzy feelings. Consider “mother, mentor and nurse.” Other words conjure up very different feelings, i.e. “dictator, lawyer and critique.” Of course, it is possible to have negative feelings about a mother or a nurse and positive feelings about a lawyer or a critique, but it is unusual.
For writers of prose or poetry, one of the most valuable people to have on your team comes from combining two disparate words — mentor and critique. I believe a mentor/critique is more valuable than a person having either attribute alone. Writing is a lonely vocation. Most of our time is spent in a room with only a desk and a computer as companions.
We try hard each day to put our thoughts on paper and once we are finished for the day or the session, we question everything we have done. Is it good? Is it terrible? What should I have done or said differently? And, in the solitude of our room, the answer isn’t quickly forthcoming.
Of course, most of us can call our mother, read it to her, and wait for her to tell us how wonderful it is, but that’s only reliable if “mother” happens to be an editor. How often does that happen? And we don’t have to search far for someone who is more than willing to tell us how horrible our writing is. But we’re usually quick to add, what do they know?
So, writers need a mentor/critique or a critique/mentor whichever works best for them. This person should have experience and some expertise in the type of things the author writes. If the author writes poetry, a critique of fantasy romances might not be much help. But a good mentor /critique, experienced in the correct genre, will read the work objectively, tell the author where she can improve and compliment her on what she did right. Since a great deal of writing is actually spent editing, and then reediting, a great critique/mentor is vital.
So, to all the people who have critiqued my poetry, short stories, essays and my novel—thank you for taking time and energy out of your busy lives to invest in me and make me a better writer.
P.S. I have added the poem “Osprey” to the list of published poems on this site. Hope you enjoy it. 😊