I depend on critical friends to help me with my writing. We meet on Mondays in Bandon, we read our creations out loud, and we listen to feedback,for discrepancies, incoherence, lack of flow. Most of all we declare that we like or dislike a piece.
It takes an act of faith to trust others to read your writing, to taste your food, to look and give you an objective view. Well, not your view, but theirs, so, it is objective to you, subjective to them. Sometimes you don't want the truth. The saying from that movie with Jack Nickolson shouting, "You Can't handle the truth", that saying is always in the back of my mind when I ask for feedback. Our acceptance of others' truth is directly related to our acceptance of their abilities to recognize good writing.
After a while together, sometimes years, writing buddies have shared their lives and careers,their hopes and dreams and challenges. They understand each other, accepting others' style and flaws. Then the truth gets dished out more carefully and delicately. Friendships can be bruised .
Writing buddies are best as motivators, as prodders, as reminders that time is running out. Each Monday, we count heads. We know who comes regularly, who shares regularly, and we wonder about the others. Are they sick, did something happen to them or their families? We experience a communion of sorts that feels so different from anything else. Dreamers need others to dream with them.
A teacher might read my pieces and concentrate on the structure, the development, the choices of imagery. A writing buddy would get past all that and just say: "I like that." Or, " I didn't get it!" And we would to return to the writing with those insights, those kernels of truth. Best days are those when we get an applause, a thundering approval telling us that our work was appreciated. Just like good food, I guess.