Did you know that one of the most difficult parts of my day does not revolve around my children? It also doesn't concern my students. No, the most strenuous task for me is writing a thoughtful and compassionate critique for someone.
Don't get me wrong...I love opening up a document and getting lost in someone else's writing as easily as I can get lost in my own. But when someone shares a story with me, they've effectively put their trust in me. They've opened their heart and I don't want to be the one to make it bleed.
I'm looking at several documents right now, alternating between them, so that my eyes are fresh each time I start to read. And when I read and make a comment, I tiptoe carefully amongst the many words I might choose. Because I want to stick to the positive side of things, and not the negative.
But sometimes, I just want to throw the paper to the ground and stomp on it, then yell at the sky, Why can't you use apostrophes correctly? or Can you understand that we need to "see," as readers, the internal thoughts that go on inside a character? Other times, I'd love to jot down in the margin of the paper, You know, this just doesn't cut it for me. I'm bored. And if I'm bored, other readers will be, too. And there have been other moments (and yes I've truly had this happen), where I've thought about what it feels like when someone scratches their nails down your cheeks and draws blood. When I think about that pain (or the pain of natural childbirth), I'm critiquing a piece that I loathe so much the fingernail action (or childbirth pain) would be far more welcome than finishing that paper.
I'm not so great a writer, though, that I think someone could say the same about critiquing a piece of my writing. And so, as I said, I'm careful as I read. I pick the right words, gather the good, and try to massage the bad into something that seems like it's good. Arduous task, I tell you. Don't believe me? Try to convince someone that shit is chocolate pudding, and you'll know how I feel.
P.S. This post in no way means that I am experiencing this right now. Which means, if I am reading one of your pieces, do not panic.