Constructive Criticism

Over the years of writing, albeit sporadic at times, I’ve learned that feedback is an essential part of the journey. To say I was out of practice at putting personal work out there would be an understatement. In school and college days critiques were common and part of the my writing make up, I didn’t really think too much about it. Perhaps because I was just doing a lot of those exercises and essays to tick a box. I like ticking things off lists and if I was to really be honest I think the project I am working on now is possibly another item I want to tick off the list,

I’ve been working on a collection of poems which I am hoping to publish later this year. I thought the hard part would be writing the poems but now that I am at editing and revision stage I know that there is a great deal of work ahead of me. This has evoked everything from impatience and annoyance in me because it means I will take longer to tick that box. Ultimately, this is a good thing but for now I just find it irritating.

As I know the context for every poem, every image and emotion it makes it difficult to accept another persons honest perspective. I’ve had good and bad feedback, some which I was expecting and more which I wasn’t. Nonetheless, even the harshest criticism has something to teach you. You don’t always have to agree with it but you do have to accept that your readers don’t have the same knowledge on these poems as you do and these suggestions and notes are beneficial. They make you look at your own work in another light.

I knew it would be one of the trickier aspects of writing a poetry collection, or any work being published. I attended a course in the Irish Writers Centre last year on self publishing and was warned. Yes, this is your book and you think it’s magical and perfect in every way… but it’s not. Edits are vital. Do not skip them. I thought about it though but just for a second I promise. I am now facing going back through each word that I have written and dissecting it. It’s a bit daunting but it must be done. Today I started that and all I could get through was step 1 – reading the feedback and trying to find the key points I want to take from it. The task of tackling any more than that today is a bit too much so instead I am going to let it marinade for another week and perhaps do some pen to paper work on new ideas instead,

I’ll tick that box though…. sooner or later.



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