I once had a piece of work (this one) critiqued by a writing class.
"I'm sorry," a classmate said "I don't know what to say. I hated it. Absolutely hated it. It made me cry, and it upset me for the day."
I was delighted and I told her so. It was my first piece of writing that had brought someone to tears. She had believed in it - I was very proud of myself!
"But I'm supposed to say something nice." she said.
Why? Why should she feel that she had to say something nice? Isn't it far better to speak from the heart no matter what?
I have recently posted two pieces of writing and a couple of commenter's have made a sort of apology for just saying simply that they liked it. Surely this is what we should go by, gut reaction, our first instincts? When I first listen to a new piece of music I sort it into a 'mmm' or an 'ugh' - not the stuff of eloquent critique, but one that leads me on to further listening, or stops me in my tracks.
I am linked to a number of poetry sites. I like poetry and dabble about a bit, but sometimes I look at my comments on those sites and think 'what a twat, how stupid does that sound?'. I even confessed a few days ago on Wordcarving, that I didn't always have to the right words because his poetry often elicits a noise from me. The strange thing was that other people agreed (can I just say that this is a very positive kind of noise - a kind of satisfied grunt! Oh shit, that doesn't sound right either, sorry John).
As a writer I am still very tickled that anyone wants to read my words and if they say anything, anything at all, it is like a hug, a kiss, a pat on the back, or a confirmation that I am doing something right (or wrong - here come the comma police!). It also means that I have touched something, made them believe something, made them think about something even if that something was not very nice.
This is not a request for compliments, but a request for you to speak from your heart. If you like it, love it, hate it, loathe it or wish to rip it into tiny, tiny pieces and laugh in my face - then say it.
The word 'critique', is a bit snobby. Maybe we feel obliged to think up some witty, informed and educated diatribe that will make the writer think that we know what we are talking about.
I say, when in doubt, use the 'Brussels sprout' rule - either you love 'em and can't get enough of 'em, or you hate 'em and they make you feel sick.
Too black and white? You decide.