Friday, May 04, 2007

Hello Critics. Should I like you?

The other day I got to meet one of the writers whom I admire a lot and have a great respect for her talent. We got to talking about the posts and the feedback and I asked her to give me her harsh critique for my work. I reasoned that the harsher was the critique, the harder I would try to re-write it and she looked at my face and wondered if I was serious.

I was serious because I feel, if we want to improve then we should be brave enough to accept the honest critiques. I am reminded of the ‘doha’ that I had learnt long ago and it went something like this:

‘Keep your critics as close as possible, make him a house in your courtyard, for without soap and water, they cleanse your nature’

But, in reality, how many of us admire our critics?

Many of the post that I see, with the captions ‘feedback wanted’ hardly have any feedbacks. And there are many who complain that they are not encouraged to write because that they get zero comments. (Such reasons cannot be an excuse for not writing!) If I feel strongly about something, I will write, it may or may not reach across the people, but it will surely reach those whom it matters and I will be glad if I am able to express it clearly.

As a writer, one should not be upset, if he/she gets zero comments. There can be many reasons for zero comments. Either you are too good and you have no friends to cheer you up, or you are no good and people do not wish to be impolite or, people are not sure how you will react and sometimes, people are not brave enough to comment on your work.

I don’t consider myself to be a very good writer, but still, there are some people out there who believe in me and who think that I can write better than them and I will be able to help them for some time before they find somebody better than me. (One person is always better than the other person, so they say ‘In the land of blind people, one-eyed person rules’)

Some days back, I received a story from a person, whom I know. She wrote: ‘hey, am sending you a story i wrote.....give me your honest honest opinion.....where i can correct myself.....what i should do right......let me know...thanks..’

She wanted me to read her story and tell her what I think about it. I warned her that I was going to read her story as objectively as I could and I gave her a very frank opinion as I found her story very hazy and disconnected. I think I was very rude, because I dissected her whole story and wrote it differently, with examples, explaining to her why it didn’t work for me.

After posting, I repented. I wished I was not so honest. I thought I had lost a friend.

Hardly a day passed and I received her email.

I was expecting a rude answer, but she wrote back: ‘i cant begin to tell you what i feel.....this has been the best ever ever brilliantly given criticism i could have ever got......seriously!! i am so bloody grateful you have no idea...all this time ppl have told me how it is and how it should be but you actually showed me and explained to me in detail what i needed to know....its easy to explain but its better if examples are given...and thanks for showing me how to rewrite it....really.... i always used to send my writing to my friend...but next time im gonna go through you first....:)

I don’t mean to boast here. But her note of thanks touched my heart.

I think if the opinion are given honestly, without personal attacks and are not biased, then they are always appreciated. And it feels good to know that there are people out there, who may or may not be your friends but they still honestly care…….

And are eager to help you fly with them, smoothly, into their writers’ world…….

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