Recently, I worked on a couple of critiques for a group outside of my normal one. Marked up both quite a bit. Tried to pour everything I’ve learned into helping these writers.
And got blown off.
Granted, it was only one of the two, but when I’m saying the same things as the other seven people at the table, these might be recommendations worth listening to. I think the only reason it bothered me greatly this time is because earlier, this person was claiming to be there to learn and get better at her craft.
The responses from the writer came off as excuses or that she made stylistic choices. Now I don’t want to talk about the piece itself because my issues with it were written all over the submission in pink ink (shush – I like critiquing others work in odd-colored pens). But to basically blow off the entire group’s suggestions made me want to pull my hair.
And yes, hearing that things are wrong, especially seriously wrong, is so hard. It takes a lot to be able to accept criticism with grace. But when we gather, whether it is this group or my normal critique group, everyone is aware that we are there to help the writer. All sunshine and rainbows won’t help anyone grow. I try to put positive things into my critiques so that the writer knows what is going right and just plain old awesome points, but, and heaven only knows I’ve held back tears on feedback I’ve gotten, I’m there to point out the issues.
No one is perfect to start. Multiple drafts are common for a reason. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve edited Twisted Magics (it also received a complete rewrite fairly early on). I’m planning to rewrite the second book to try and get things to work out better. And I’m always learning. Trying something new, seeing if it works, fixing it if it doesn’t. I don’t ever want to stop learning because then I’ll stop growing as a writer.