A No Pecking Zone
by Donna Mumma
“Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days.”
A pair of mockingbirds nested in the oak tree outside our front door. I’ve enjoyed watching their dedication to protecting their unhatched eggs. During a single week, they harassed and pecked a squirrel, a snake, and a black bird almost twice their size. These feathered parents also took a few swipes at our puppy and me when we ventured out for a morning walk.
As writers, we protect our work like these bird-parents. We fall in love with our words. They become our darlings, and we don’t want others to critique them.
Though we might dislike correction, we must not peck helpful critiques away from our precious word-hatchlings.
Critique allows us to see our weaknesses. A good critique points out overused words, when we tell instead of show, and canyon-sized plot holes. They suggest methods to help us overcome our mistakes and teach us how to grow in our craft.
Critique improves our writing. A fresh set of eyes sees bloated sentences, bad characterizations, sagging middles, and unsatisfying endings. Allowing others to help polish our work ensures a higher chance of creating something that sings from the page.
Critique keeps us humble. No writer creates perfection. Ever. We all make mistakes and need those who will lovingly point them out so our work will hum with quality.
A day will come when those mockingbirds will push their precious babies from the nest. At the end of their parenting work, they will move on to the next stage of their life.
Wise writers follow a similar course. They compose drafts, preparing for the day when the editing process begins and their beloved words must be refined. Listening to counsel and critique ensures our work will reflect God and not our own egos. As iron sharpens iron, a good critique sharpens our words and enables them to deliver the message God has given us.
Father help us listen to the wise words of our critique partners and accept their correction with a loving, humble spirit. Amen.
Donna Mumma writes award-winning fiction and non-fiction seasoned with a sense of adventure. An avid believer in education, she holds a M.Ed. in Elementary Education. She serves as Tampa chapter president of Word Weavers International. A native Floridian, Donna lives in St. Petersburg, Florida with her husband. She is the mom of two college boys and an energetic collie named Duke. Visit her website http://donnamumma.me/.