A recent submission to one of the workshops I attended got worked over pretty well. One of the members offered regrets after the meeting for having been so critical. She really didn’t need to do that. I welcomed and appreciated her honest evaluation, much of which was spot on. I had been just as forthright in my comments of her work. It was a fair exchange.
But more than that. Getting critical, i.e. fault-finding commentary, is why we do workshops.
I’m coming to the conclusion that we’re often just too nice each other. We’re told to ‘sandwich’ our critiques. Say something kind, pick your nits, then close with something positive. After all, we’re supposed to encourage each other.
It’s true that new writers may need reassurance and a little coddling. I would never want it said that I drove someone away from writing. Nor do I want to hurt the feelings of anyone with the courage to put their thoughts, their imagination, their vision of the world on a piece of paper and share it. I’m pretty sure we all feel that way. We all want to be encouraging.
That’s the problem. Those of us who are serious about our writing don’t need to be encouraged to write. We need to be encouraged and TAUGHT to write better. Many of us are not beginners and we’re not going to quit because someone’s opinion of our work was disapproving. That’s especially true when we respect and admire the talent and skill of the critic.
In that regard, I am fortunate. I count the friends in all the workshops I attend to be among the many blessings God has showered on me. I try to give back as well as I am able. It’s the least I can do.
If your feelings are hurt by what sounds like a snarky comment, accept your feelings and then get over it. Give it a day or so and then evaluate the substance. If there’s anything useful in the critique, accept it, learn from it, and make your revisions.
Fredric W. Meek was born in Chicago and grew up in the western suburbs. He majored in history for his B.A. and received his J.D. from DePaul College of Law. His first novel, THE COLLEGE, published in 2013, was a story about the Vatican and a most unlikely pope. Fred's interest in the ancient world and the foundations of western civilization, led to a series of historical novels of the Roman republic: FINIS REPUBLICAE, INCEPTUM FINIS, and TRIUMPHUS PLEBIS. The common themes of all his books are family and friendship.
The Writing Pond Blog is home of The Downers Grove Writers Workshop. It is a compilation of members contributions. We love to write and writing about writing is one of the many ways in which we help to each other to become better and more consistent in the craft.