Don and I have been critiquing each other’s writing for about five years. Shortly after we met, he completed an Enneagram test that figured him to be a 9. I didn’t know him very well then, so a 9 he was. Although every once in a while I wondered about that, we never talked about the Enneagram until I decided to start this blog, at which time he completed my Stance Keyword Comparison Checklist. The results indicated he was a Compliant type, and we soon determined he’s a 1w9—a profile that fits him much better and explains quite a lot.
So, in one corner of the critique ring, wearing the white trunks, we have:
Do It the Right Way (Don)
and over in the other corner, wearing the black trunks:
Do It My Way (me)
Thank goodness for the moderating influence of our wings, his 9 and my 7. Sure, we’ve had a couple of minor skirmishes. One time when we were meeting as part of a critique group in a bookstore café, I took the lid off my cup of coffee, and the person to my right backed away from the table, assuming I intended to toss the contents at Don. But no knockout punches have been delivered to date and no liquid refreshments have been tossed.
One Trick Pony
Several years before I met Don, I was in a critique group with a Type 1 who made his living as a copy editor, which seemed to be a good career choice for him. Unfortunately, copy-editing was the only type of critique he was able to offer. No matter how many times I reminded him I was submitting first- or second-draft material and didn’t care if I’d spelled it “T-shirt” in one place and “tee-shirt” in another since the doggone shirt might not even make it into the next draft, copy-editing was always what I got. So I removed myself from that critique group. Who needs the aggravation?
Fortunately, Don has more tricks than that.
Yes, he refers to stylebooks (!). While I own and refer to one myself, it definitely wasn’t written by those fuddy-duddies, Strunk and White. And, yes, when he tells me I need to add or remove a particular comma, he’s likely to explain the punctuation rule that applies (thank you, Don…). But, as a result, I’m more attentive to punctuation in my early drafts than I used to be, which is a good thing.
Don is also generous with his positive feedback and much less committed to his opinions and positions than I am. Of course, it’s possible he’s either afraid of me or just trying to avoid an argument. In any case, we both take the job of critiquing someone else’s writing seriously and strive to do a good job. And by now, we both have a good sense of each other’s writing styles, strengths, weaknesses, and bad habits. Whether or not I agree with him, I always consider what he has to say. Even when he’s wrong.