I spend a great deal of time critiquing other people’s work. Sometimes I do this for money but most often I do it so that they’ll, in turn, critique my work and help me make it better. I help them, they help me. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
The fact is, I really enjoy critiquing works and the whole feeling that I have something worthwhile to contribute to the story they’re writing. As I’m not naturally a confident person, this feeling is born from experience rather than innate self-worth. Others have judged my critiques to be worthwhile and sought them out, sometimes paying me for my “expertise” but most often asking for my assistance on my favorite critiquing website (Scribophile). Like I wrote, it’s gratifying to be part of an author’s journey in any capacity, but most especially when they invite you into the circle like that. It’s even more gratifying to feel worthy of being a part of an author’s journey. I’ve worked hard to get to this point as a writer. I’m not sure I’m expressing this well, but I hope the point comes across.
The darker side of this critiquing, though, is that I rarely read for pleasure anymore, and when I do I find myself critiquing the work automatically. Still, those times come when I just don’t want to think about how a story is written and just want to enjoy it. Tonight was just such a night, and lo and behold a new Pilcrow and Dagger had just come out. I was behind on my issues anyway, so I took the opportunity to get current. And what a joy that was! Not just because it was Pilcrow and Dagger, but because the stories were a real treat to read. And I was only tempted a dozen times to email the authors and make suggestions!!! That’s a joke for those who don’t critique a lot of works. It really does affect how you read for fun.
I’m just a little ways into Conspiracy Theories (aka the July issue) and am looking forward to more rewarding stories. When I get another chance to read for pleasure. Which reminds me of the motto I often use here:
Life is short. Read fast.