I've had this blog post on my "to do" list all week, but have been submerged under marking student assignments. It's a tricky business appraising other people's writing, being aware of the subjectivity of it, and constantly asking myself, what (apart from university requirements) am I doing this for? How is my feedback going to be helpful? How can I get the right mixture of encouragement and challenge? What do I know anyway? I actually think I am pretty good at it, though some of my students may not agree. I do trust that I grade relatively fairly and give a focused critique which intends to assist in development.
I have some trusted writer friends, and we swap our work for comment. Outside of this and the university context, I am reluctant to offer anything more than bland reassurance to people who want me to read their poems or stories. In the past I have been asked to offer a critique and have spent hours reading and reflecting and crafting my feedback, only to find that it falls on stopped up ears. Mostly people want to hear, yeah it's great. And mostly, I can't be bothered with that, it takes up too much of my own precious writing time.
I have used some websites where my work is anonymously critiqued, while, in return, I anonymously critique that of other writers'. This I have found useful, though, again time consuming, because to get my own appraised by four people, I had to appraise four others.
I am relatively new to blogging, so it is exciting to be contacted by another blogger and told that I am on her blogroll. Having looked at her site, I am happy to return the favour: http://www.plantingwords.com/.