Thank Goodness it’s All Subjective!

We all know the importance of critiquing, how it helps to better our writing even though at the same time the process quite literally has the ability to shatter your confidence. Recently I enrolled in a course at a nearby college, the class originally consisted of about 14 people, but toward the end only 10 of us finished. The beauty about this class is that the genres in which we invested our time are all so different. There is Historical, Romance and Sci-Fi all of which I found were really well written and look forward to reading more of.
When the class ended, it seemed a good idea to continue as an on-line writing group where we could all still critique each other’s work, have consistency and a deadline that would keep us all writing. Although it seemed like a good idea at first, our little group seems to be lacking in the consistency department, which was the one thing I looked forward to. Most of us are submitting our pages on time; we established a schedule and some critiques are posted shortly after, but only by a select few. I get that we all have busy lives, but it doesn’t help that fact that we sometimes spend days waiting on pins and needles for those critiques to go up in the discussion and I mean days. Something I find a bit disrespectful when it takes incredible courage to put yourself and you writing out there, for what in all honesty, I could only describe is close to a public stoning. Okay, maybe my analogy is a little dramatic, but nonetheless the experience is a scary one and I am speaking for myself here. In the words of one fellow blogger Heather Gardner, the waiting is the hardest part. Maybe I am a little naive. I mean, I don’t know what I expected from a group of strangers, but thinking that because we all essentially had the same goal in mind, I thought that perhaps that was our connection. Perhaps that was the one thing that would enable us to support and encourage each other to do great. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.
The idea for this blog started when one of our group members gave me that public stoning. I don’t claim to be Hemingway, I don’t claim to be better than anyone else in fact I know there are much better writers out there. But I try and do what I enjoy most and that’s creating a story that I feel is worth not only telling, but reading as well. So when you get that one person whose opinion you know is unfounded, complete rubbish to be honest, it really does a number on your confidence and not to mention your ego. I am an incredibly open-minded person and I can take criticism, but when the critique is not a critique but an opinion things change. The way this opinion was delivered gave me the impression that:
A.    This person just didn’t get it
B.     This person did not take the time, completely rushed through the reading.
The latter is disheartening. I am open to brutal honesty, open to constructive and clear criticism, but not false assumptions about one’s characters. When the behaviours of my characters, my babies for lack of a better word are questioned, I will have something to say about it. Excuse me for being defensive, but when someone’s words have me second-guessing myself even though I know this person was wrong, it bothers me. After that particular critique I went back and read what I had written to see if maybe I had missed something and after doing so I came to the conclusion that both A and B played a factor in the critique.
I do have to mention that there is an upside to all this, within this group there are a couple of people whose critiques are incredibly helpful. One of them is fellow writer and blogger Catherine Lo, who is tremendously helpful and supportive, hop over to her new blog Love The Story, it’s great.
Anyway, the bottom line is take your time PEOPLE, read and re-read the submissions before you critique, be constructive, clear, respectful and most of encouraging. This is hard work and there is quite literally blood, sweat, and tears involved in producing a good story.
Have you ever had a critique you didn’t agree with? Have you ever had the sense that your critique partner hasn’t read you work? What have you done about it?

4 thoughts on “Thank Goodness it’s All Subjective!

  1. I feel like I know exactly what you are talking about.

    It is so hard to share our words as it is and then to have someone rip it to pieces is so unnerving.

    I'm glad you told us about your experience though. It really sucks but it is a good reminder for all of us. Some people are out there to help us and some are only out for themselves.

    Like you said, it's all subjective.

    I hope you let it roll off your back and get back to what you love doing.

    Thanks for the mention.

    Thinking positive thoughts for you.


  2. Thanks for the mention, Jessica! How exciting!
    You and I were on the same page for blog posts this week 🙂
    I think it was on our minds.
    You know that you are a beautiful writer and that you are giving this your all. You take your writing very seriously, which is extremely important!
    Keep doing what you're doing, and don't let this one bad experience stop you from putting your words out there!


  3. I completely understand. I am actually not sensitive to comments about my work. However, this past semester in my MFA program workshop there were two writers in particular that made comments based on opinion and not fact. It was clear that they didn't take the time to really read my work and understand it. My professor even disagreed with their comments. Sometimes you just have to know what advice to take and what you should throw away. I'm a firm believer in the saying “It's all in the way you present it.” You can get your point across without being rude or insulting to another writer. They'll be sorry when we're NYT Bestselling Authors! 😉


  4. Heather – I am over it, things like that you have to roll them of your back. I will admit it did throw me off though.

    Cath – thanks for your kinds words it means a lot to me. This won't stop me not for a second i can't let it!

    Racquel – You what's funny is that I usually don't let things get to me, but this was different I felt almost insulted… But whatever! the writing must go on.
    People in the end do say what they want, it was one person opinion no one who's opinion makes too much of a difference to me, it's the way she said it.
    You're right “It's all in the way you present it.”

    Thanks you all for you encouraging words.



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