The squirrel sat on the stairs eating my corn.  A small pile of denuded cobs lay about the landing where he preferred to dine.  The stalks I cared for all spring and summer stood empty, as empty as the pear tree the squirrel cleared earlier this month.

No pest has eaten more or done more damage to my garden than one black squirrel.  And if it were just the one, I could live with it, but he brings his buddies along.  Squirrels, rabbits, mice, deer, birds and more creatures do untold damage to gardens and they do the worst right before a harvest.  I read somewhere that when you plant a garden, expect a third to harvest, a third to go to the weather and a third to go to the critters.

It’s enough for a gardener to go Rambo on them.  And believe me, I’ve tried all the tricks, moth balls, spinners, wolf pee, B-B gun, Vaseline and cayenne pepper (works to a degree), live trap cages, nothing works short of getting a watchdog and brings up a different set of problems.  At some point, gardeners simply give up and let the critters do their worst.

Critics can do more damage to a writer than any gang of squirrels can do.  We writers have fragile egos and whatever we produce is always the best thing ever written.  When some bozo tells us otherwise it sends us scurrying beneath the chaise with a box of Merlot and a case of Kleenex.

A good critic, that includes an alpha or beta reader, will point out the good and bad parts of a piece, make suggestions and will even nit-pick if that’s what you want.  Anybody can be a destructive critter, tell you ‘you suck’ and should stop trying to write.  A good critter will show you your errors and help correct them.

Every good garden needs helpful critters.  Bees, ants, ladybugs, cats and dogs can keep the unwanted critters at bay and work for you.

Every good writer needs people who can point out typos and plot holes.  Those are the world’s best critters.


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