Fascinating! Sunday was my first meet-up and I left very excited at the prospects of this group providing a critique of my work. In life, some people are overly critical and take pleasure in finding fault in another. I didn't find that dynamic to be present on Sunday.
Can I say, an insensitive voice is heard best by a sensitive ear!
I've often found that when I have a strong reaction to another's words, it is usually because it strikes an already sensitive chord within. Otherwise, it's just the opinion of some fool that I can take or leave as I choose. If we're honest, we know that we are not equally equipped to handle criticism (or to give criticism) - even constructive criticism can be too much for some. As a newcomer I would hate to see the quality of critique be diminished by an overriding concern for happy endings for all. Certainly, we need to be sensitive in our commentary, but it needs to be balanced with useful feedback. I personally want to be told if I've written a piece that someone wouldn't waste their time to wipe with. I'm willing to trust that the person who tells me this is either shooting from the hip or from a sour spirit and that I'll know the difference! We probably can't fix a sour spirit any more easily than we can a sensitive one, even with rules in place as they'll surely be broken or at least be perceived as having been broken.
Perhaps the moment someone is feeling insulted at a meeting, they should ask the one providing the critique to be more sensitive in their word choice. This will provide a proper and timely cue for the need for greater sensitivity (due either to a less sensitive critiquer or to an overly sensitive critiquee - those aren't even words are they?), and can help prevent any spin-outs or hard feelings towards each other. Interestingly enough the individual who felt insulted, felt insulted by the very individual who initially voiced the need for greater sensitivity! Clearly our unique perceptions are in play!
Have I said too much? I tend to be direct and opinionated - I suppose that's why I write! I promise though to be both sensitive and thoughtful in my critiques and where I falter in either direction, just stop me on the spot and I'll adjust!
This feels like family already!
From: [address removed]
To: [address removed]
Subject: [The-Central-PA-Writers-Workshop] comments
Date: Wed, 25 Apr[masked]:08:25 -0400
There appears to be some acrimony over our recent Meetup, and the crits that were presented. Please keep some things in mind: We are in this to help each other grow as writers. It is vital to utilize empathy (a quality that should be in no short supply among writers) when presenting critiques. We need to keep our comments constructive in nature. That said, developing rhino hide is also part of becoming a successful writer.
Personally, I will never shoot the message merely because I am put off by the messenger. If you tell me my story is flotsam, I will not take your lack of tact as a personal attack; I will simply ask you to elucidate. I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Don :)
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