Monday, May 4, 2009

Crit Group Commentary

Okay, so I meet with a live critique group every other Thursday. It's like the highlight of my existence. Well, that might be taking it a bit far, but I really enjoy it. I've gone when I have raging sinus infections (I'm sure the other members were thrilled about that), I've gone when my son has pack meeting (cuz let's face it. Pack meetings are like torture), and I've gone when it's snowing like crazy mad. I'm like the post office people. Rain, shine, sinus infection, I'll be there.

Ali, Jenn and Stacy are made of awesome. We have sooo much fun. So today, I thought I'd share some quotes from last Thursday night that had me rolling on the floor laughing. And we all know that laughter is the best medicine, especially when you've got three pirahnas tearing into your work. In person. And you have to look them in the eye and try not to feel like every word you've penned is complete and utter suckage.

So we laugh a lot. It's my coping mechanism. But hey, I like being critiqued. (And I still don't have a T-shirt for that, but all in good time.kenyit)

So here are some things that were said at the group. I paraphrased some of them so I hope Jenn and Stacy don't mind. I have a good memory, but I'm no Einstein. I totally get that you might not understand them, or why they're funny, but they really are. Really.


"I can do dirty."

"The 'fill her up' freaked me out. 'Fill her up'? Fill what up? I mean, 'fill her up'?"

"I kind of like the idea of a chasm."

"Have you ever had your hair razored?" (To me! They asked me this! I'm nothing if not into razoring my hair.)

"You don't have to eat this if you don't want to."

"She's put out all this other stuff. I was wondering where the fishing line is."

"The basis of my experience with cattle ranching comes from City Slickers."

"What's with you and all your guys being obsessed with hair?"


So here's my question for you: How do you deal with critiques? Maniacal laughter like me? Major stewage afterward? (I do this too.) Is it hard to have your writing critiqued? Why or why not?

BONUS: Would you wear a T-shirt that said, "I like being critiqued"? (lol)


Cali MacKay said...

I really don't mind it... usually. I think most critiquers are pretty good at getting their view across without making it a personal attack. Others... not so much.

I will say, I find it most difficult to get a critique from someone who never reads the genre I'm writing, and as a result ends up critiquing everything which is acceptable and normal within that genre.

I write romance, so yeah, they're going to kiss... a lot. And they'll probably have sex-- more than once, even. AND I may even detail their emotional state. Insane, I know!! But if you've read any romance, you'll know that's all normal and acceptable, so don't criticize me for it. Feel free to crit my crappy writing, but not that. ; )

Danyelle L. said...

How I handle it internally really depends on my mood at the time. I always try to be polite and thankful when I receive one, because I do appreciate the crits even if they sting a little.

Not sure about the shirt though. ;-)

Amanda Bonilla said...

I used to hate being critiqued. In fact the first couple that I received made me cry like crazy. But now, I take it on the chin and even though some times it still gets me down, I realize that it's making me a better writer. Sometimes I'll laugh if I wrote something that only sounded bone-headed after someone pointed it out, but usually I get a little down for a while, shake it off and grow from it. As for the tee-shirt. Sure! I'd wear one!!

M. Dunham said...

Having my writing critiqued isn't difficult for me - I genuinely appreciate feedback and having my lazy -isms pointed out to me. I need a boot in the butt sometimes. Sometimes I stew, but not over the critique - over how to fix my issue!

It's never personal for me. I love the stories I write, but if I can become a better writer in the telling of the process, I'm happy about that, especially since I'm only 24 and have been writing with a publishing intent for only a few years.

Bonus: I totally would wear that shirt.

Traci said...

I wish my kitteh could fix my spelin erers! :-) You are right...laughter is the best medicine. You have to be able to laugh at yourself.

Scott said...

I deal with it in the best way possible . . . with Sisters Cabernet, Merlot, and Margarita. They always make the critiques seem better . . . somehow.

Seriously, I do some major stewage at first, then I step back, take about fifty deep breaths (sometimes 100) and re-examine the critiques. I also try and remember that all critiques are subjective.

I agree with C. Taylor about getting a critique from someone who never reads the genre I'm writing. I had a very bad experience with that a long time ago, and it was many, many, many years before I even considered a critique group. Luckily, I learned my lesson from the experience.

For the most part, I leave sex out of my writing. Not because I'm a prude, but just because I'm more into the aftermath of the sex - the giddy smiles, the walking around in the daze, the reaction of the character's co-workers, and all that other stuff. : )

In the end, we must take the criticism in stride, change what we feel we must, and hold onto what we feel we must as well. One of my beta readers did not like the title of my current project out to query. Every other reader did. I kept the original title.

Tess said...

I appreciate an honest critique...they are hard to come by. I have pretty thick skin and am good at figuring out what I agree w/ and what I don't. If someone is willing to help me see a more objective view of my work then I am ever grateful.

I am totally jealous of your critique group, however. It would be great to be laughing so much. That sounds more like my book club :)

Abby Annis said...

I love being critiqued. Maybe that's because I've never gotten a really scathing one, but nothing makes me more crazy than having my betas tell me there's nothing wrong with my ms. Granted, they're not writers, but still. I know it's far from perfect.

I especially appreciate the crits that point out all the parts I felt might be weak, but wasn't sure about. Then I obsess about it until I either come up with a solution or decide to leave it alone. So major stewage for me. Definitely.

And I'm feeling your pain on pack night. Only two more weeks and my son will be out of cubs. Woohoo!

Aaron Polson said...

To me, the personal attack is all in the eye of the beholder. My writing is not me--it may be personal, but it isn't me.

I always welcome honest critiques of my work. I welcome the challenge of hearing the critique without taking it personally. I'm more offended by a "critique" if it is all sunshine and roses.

Now...if you want to make fun of my t-shirt, I might take that personally.

ND_Green said...

Being critiqued to me is like medicine. I feel crappy and cranky when I take it, but later - sometimes days later - I'm really grateful for it. I'm definitely the defensive type...but thank goodness for critiques.

Michelle D. Argyle said...

I like being critiqued because it helps me grow. It's painful, but a good sort of pain. Like sore muscles from a long run. :)

Michelle McLean said...

I like critiques...I always get at least one useful comment :) Sometimes it's a little disappointing when my crit buddies don't find a favorite section as stellar as I thought it was...but I almost always gets really good revision suggestions that make it even better.

And in some cases, like with my romance stuff, I've just learned to understand my critters comments better. I have one friend that doesn't read all. So the more "gag," "ewww," and "ugh," comments I get on the "romance" scenes, the better :D If I can really make her vomit, I know I've done well :D

Jenn Adams said...

Usually, my reaction to the critiques is, "I know. I hate that part too!" LOL. The thing is, I know there are problems with my stuff, but I don't know how to fix it. Enter Elana, Stacy, and Ali. If I ever get published, it will be because of them.

The times when it stings, though, are when I base a character's reactions on something /I/ would think or do, and they criticize the character's reactions. (i.e. "This makes her sound really catty," or some such thing).

The moral of the story: Don't base your characters on yourself and you'll be good. :o)

As for the T-shirt, the answer is - it depends. :o) Will the shirt be free? Will you pay me to wear it? Or will it cost $20? My answers would be: Why not, Bring it on, and Forget it, respectively. LOL.

Windy said...

I do a little bit of both... maniacal laughter and then some stewing over things...

I generally like to read it through immediately, then walk away for a bit, from both the project and the crit so that I won't absorb too much of it ... then I can go back and approach it from a less emotional perspective.

Rebecca Knight said...

"The basis of my experience with cattle ranching comes from City Slickers."

BAHAHAHA! Okay, this cracked me up because... totally.

Anyway, to answer your questions, I DO love being critiqued, and would wear the t-shirt :D.

Actually, I'm blessed (cursed?) with a mom and husband who are my personal pirranhas. When you go to your mom expecting the "what a lovely story, dear" and you get "Eh. The ending needs a LOT of work," you know you've got something special.

I always try to take everything with a grain of salt, even my own emotional reactions to a critique. I sit back and ask myself "is this logical?" like Spock. If "yes" then I immediately replace any grumpiness I had over it with extreme gratefulness :).

I've been blessed with some awesome betas--I'm talking about you, Ms. Abby! ;) You rock!

Unknown said...

I'm speechless. Really! Okay, not really, but to answer your question, I have no idea! I hope I would take it as it was meant - much needed help! I think it would totally be more fun in person though. Maybe I can find a group in the Bahamas! Cross your fingers for me, will ya?

Stina said...

Fortunately my crit group is online so I can cry all I want and they don't even know it. Not that that's ever happened. But I do love my group, even when they all say, "Huh? I don't get it." I mean, what's there not to get? ;)

Anonymous said...

Hehehehehehe...I love this post!!!
As for the questions...Hmmm...
Critiques scare the (bleep) out of me...and yet, I can't imagine writing without the help of my awesome crit buddies and beta readers.

So, I always suck in a breath when hearing (or reading) my crits, exhaling when it is over...realizing it is never as bad as I think it is going to be and then going through it point by point.

In the end, even with the horrifically bad/rough writing has it's totally worth it!!!

Jessica Nelson said...

LOL Sounds like an awesome time! If I had a live crit group I think I'd be like you, there no matter what.
Cute quotes. :-) Some are downright hilarious.

Most of the time I'm able to handle the critique in a practical, mature, levelheaded way. Snort. No, I really do like to be critiqued. I'd wear the shirt!

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