As a writer for any length of time, when showing your work around to people, you will have noticed a couple of interesting phenomena.
1. Everybody you show your work to knows that they, too, could write, if they only took the time to do so. “I should write about my life. People would be thrilled and fascinated with all my adventures.” This is often followed by something like, “I could take a week or two off work and whip out a novel. Piece of cake.”
2. Everybody claims to be an excellent editor. But they aren’t. “I’ll go through this and clean it up for you. I’m great at this.” “Your story? Yep, I’ll be getting to it shortly.” “The story you gave me to *read* last year? No. Really, I’ll be working on it tonight.”
What a disappointment. Or is it? Showing off your writing to non-writers (often non-readers) is like juggling in front of a group of 4-year olds. Every one of them knows that they could do that, too, if only you’ll let them have the juggling balls to play with. Practice not required.
I’m sure we can agree on this, but that isn’t really why I invited you all here today.
Coaching is a two-way street, more, it is a gift.
If someone cares enough about your work to actually step forward and make suggestions, that’s a true gift. Unless it isn’t. OK, so there are mean-spirited people out there who’s lives and self-worth are dependent on putting other people down–but we’ll leave those for a RANT one of these days.
Coaching is like a back rub that does more than soothe sore muscles. Someone once told me that half the value of a back rub is that someone actually wants to give it to you. The same can (and should) be said for coaching.
I think that the better reviewers are people who actually spend some time saying more than “hey, good”, “LOL”, or “Can’t wait for more”. This is not to say that those sentiments aren’t nice. They’re certainly more uplifting than someone patting you on the head and running off, but how do you as a writer grow from such sentiments?
Good critiques and coaching doesn’t always feel good. If you want unconditional love, buy a puppy.