Most writers partake of (choke on?) some version of the Critique Sandwich (whether they are aware of it or not). It goes like this: to avoid completely demoralizing a writer, the critique partner (editor, loved one, etc.) says something positive first, then follows with what needs improving, then ends with something positive.
When we’re lucky, the ‘filling’ on the critique sandwich isn’t so thick as to overwhelm the ‘bread.’
I’ve been an editor for too many years to count. When I was younger, I was often guilty of throwing a whole lot of filling at writers without softening the critique. I thought I was being direct, saving everyone time, getting to the point.
Well, ladies and gentlemen…during those years, I missed the point completely.
People matter. People’s feelings matter. And there are always nuggets of gold buried in what we may think of as the worst essay, book, short story, poem, song or painting.
The life of a creative is hard enough. We battle our own inner critic and self-doubt daily. Encouragement of any kind can make the difference in someone forging ahead or giving up her creative dreams.
Today, I received the nicest rejection from a literary agent. Just the right amount of bread and filling -- definitely not a Dagwood special. Instead of being utterly disappointed, I’m feeling pretty upbeat.