A piece of writing is half of the dialogue between the author and readers. The act of writing, however, can be a lonely act if you don’t have readers of your work. These readers can help encourage you to continue writing and pose the necessary questions to make your work as strong as possible.
I rely on a number of different people to read my work and offer a variety feedback. For example, some friends and family members are good readers when I’m feeling unsure about a piece and need some positive feedback. I go to them to be reminded about my excitement to write. They tend to enjoy my work and encourage me.
There are other readers, for me these are mostly friends from graduate school, who are more critical readers. They catch awkward phrases in the poem and even what is missing. This is a two-way street. We will email each other work, sometimes with directed questions, and offer feedback.
I think I knew that I was in love with my husband, who is not a poet, when he first read my work and offered a critical reading. He noted not only what he liked, but also what he thought could be improved upon. Since then, I trust him to read carefully, be honest in his response and respect my work enough to help prod along the revisions.
I encourage you to share your work with friends and ask for their honest opinions. Non-writers might be hesitant to respond. Especially with poetry, I find that non-writing friends think that they don’t have the knowledge or the ability to critique the pieces. I encourage them that they do. After all, we aren’t only writing for other poets, right? We hope to read a larger audience that includes them.
With whom do you share your work?