There was a discussion on FM the other day about writing/critique partners. I was talking about the difficulty of finding the right person--the reader who could be the advocate for the book and its best expression while offering commentary in a way that was positive and helpful. Then I mentioned that I *had* found such a reader in my friend, Diane, but that I felt guilty asking her to read my work as she was not a writer and I didn't feel as if I could reciprocate.
The other chatters gave me a 'I could have had a v8' moment. They said to ask her. Ask her if she wanted to be my reader? Wow--what a concept. LOL. So I did. And she said yes. (Whoo hoo! Thank you, my friend!)
What is amazing about Diane is that she reads with the eye of a reader and the heart of an artist. She also knows me well enough to know I don't want things sugar coated and she can tell me *why* something either works or doesn't work for her, both on a specific level and on a philosophical level.
I participate in several critique groups, but there is a difference between critique as a writer gives and critique as a reader gives. Both are important, but ultimately, we are writing for readers not other writers.
Other thoughts on critique. I've been hoping to see more critique posted on Wild Poetry forum. It's a fast moving board, with dozens of poems posted each day. More folks post than offer critique. Some do not because they feel intimidated. Others don't feel as if they have any skill in critique, or that they are still learning the basics of writing poetry.
My feeling is that for the board to thrive, more members need to post relevant critique more often. I'm planning on running a mini-course on poetry critique in the hopes of seeing more participation in the crit process. Otherwise, it falls on the moderators and a few members.