When I first found my crit partner (I know I talk about this a lot) and we swapped pages I knew the feedback would be rough. I put on my big girl panties, strapped into my leather skin armor, and waited. The recommendations came and I wanted to cry, but I reminded myself that I wasn't perfect. No one is. This wonderful partner was here to help me grow, help me become a better writer.
I didn't think it would be possible. I didn't think I would get better. There were so many thinks to learn. Tell vs. Show, proper comma usage (I still suck at this), leaving the -ly words at home, making my dialogue read like actual people talking. Pretty bad, right? I'm still not perfect.
Side story: I used to be able to first draft an academic paper and nail it on the first try. A+ all around. This was the way it went in Elementary, Middle School, High School, and College. Hell, I wrote an essay on the state of Kansas in the 5th grade and my teachers wanted to know what books I used because they thought I plagiarized the descriptions. Poo on them for not believing in my flowery, flowing prose. So, to see how much my fiction writing sucked compared to my non-fiction writing was a blow to my very small ego. *smiles*
A year and a half later: My editing skills are better. I can write dialogue for real fictional people *oxymoron, I know* I can see the telling vs. showing. My commas aren't so misplaced. I've learned to write sentences without the typically-not-needed 'was' and 'that'. I'm still having a bit of trouble with passive writing, but if all the other things are becoming clearer I have hope for the future and my ability to clear out the passive for active.
I wouldn't be in this place without my critique partner. I wouldn't be so eager to let others rip up my work without finding someone I could trust to tear me apart. This readied my mind for the people I don't know very well to tear me apart.
Side story: The rip up, as I call the critique process, is something I desire greatly. I know now the importance of honest feedback. No matter how bad it is I want to know every little nit pick. Down to the possibility you hate my heroine's hair color. Recently, in a group crit session I got three critiques on the same pages. Two had barely any comments and some nice supporting remarks. I felt jipped because deep down I knew these pages contained errors. They had issues and I wanted a rip up. The last critique came in and when I opened the pages to red lines and comments everywhere the only thing I could do is smile. Aloud I said, "That's more like it."
The moral of the post is, even if you think critiquing and partners is a waste of time. It's not. It's essential. It changes you from the writer you were to the writer you will be. If we're not learning, if we're not getting better, then what the hell are we doing?