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Christyp
10-08-2011, 08:46 AM
When I found WD, and AW I was ecstatic. I knew absolutely nothing about the publishing world (I actually googled, "how to publish a novel"). A couple of people, literally two, quickly came to my aid, declaring their undying friendship. Well, to make a loooonnnng story short...we're no longer friends.

My husband said all art is subjective, as is the people who create it. I guess I was naive and believed we would all be cheer leaders for eachother, and hold hands when someone was feeling like jumping from the top of the Eifel tower. Now, I'm extremely gun shy, and haven't joined another crit group for fear of a repeat perfermance.

Please tell me I'm not the only paranoid freak out there!

Dark River
10-08-2011, 09:20 AM
OMG-I so understand! I left one group because so much of it was off topic and I wanted to talk about writing and not pets or children or menopause... I left another group because when I used terms like story arc, character profiles, queries, and POV, their eyes would glaze over. And they asked me to leave because they looked at writing as more of a hobby.
And do you get the idiotic writer comments and questions?
I've been meaning to write a novel-how hard can it be? I'm writing a book-it's all about me and my fascinating life as a (waitress, funeral director, take your pick...) Don't you just hire the agent you want? So, if you get published, how long before you earn your first million? I've got so many ideas for a book! What if I tell you my ideas and you can write it...(I have an imagination, but thanks.)
It sounds like you have been allowing wanna be's to get too close. Jealousy is alive and well in our profession and I've known people who would kill for talent.
So, no, hon, you are not the only paranoid freak out there. Can we start a club? You can be the president and I'll take donations at the door. :) :)

blacbird
10-08-2011, 09:37 AM
Are you expecting everyone to gush lovingly over your work? If so, you're in for a hard time anywhere in this universe.

caw

Filigree
10-08-2011, 09:50 AM
I just don;t have the time to join a group and wait for critiques. Things are moving pretty fast right now, and I'm lucky to have some good betas.

D.M.Drake
10-08-2011, 09:56 AM
Trolls are everywhere, the way I see it is everyone who has nothing better to do than talk down on you literally has nothing better to do. Laugh it off, shrug it off and try to remember 99% of people DO NOT have your best interests at heart and in a competitive world making some one lose faith in them selves and quit is a wonderful way to boost your chances.

I admit, I am jaded. I am also painfully honest. Its a flaw, it has served me well though.

Good luck, I hope you find what you need here, but remember, everyone has a reason for everything they do. Always consider the source.

~Drake

Polenth
10-08-2011, 09:57 AM
I think it's more realistic in writing groups to go in with the expectation of taking part, but not of making friends. If you do make friends, that's great. But going in with the expectation of friends can lead to rushing into friendships that won't work out. You don't need to be friends with people to get critiques and support.

Katrina S. Forest
10-08-2011, 10:13 AM
Some people are just nasty critiquers. They're in it to help no one, only to build themselves up. They attack the writer, never the writing. I've dealt with several of them over different critique groups, and I've dealt with the down-to-earth, tell-it-like-it-is critiquers. They're two different types of people and the former can really knock a new writer down. Heck, one of them almost knocked me down *after* I survived Clarion West. The latter are worth their weight in gold.

Yes, when you're published, you'll have dissatisfied readers and rude reviewers, and all that. But when you go to another writer for help and they go out of their way to crush you, yeah, that's going to hurt.

I'm sorry you had the experience you did. There are plenty of critiquers who will give you blunt, honest, feedback without making you feel lousy about it. Hang in there! :)

gothicangel
10-08-2011, 11:14 AM
My husband said all art is subjective, as is the people who create it. I guess I was naive and believed we would all be cheer leaders for eachother, and hold hands when someone was feeling like jumping from the top of the Eifel tower. Now, I'm extremely gun shy, and haven't joined another crit group for fear of a repeat perfermance.


True, all art is subjective, but the publishing industry has standards that it expects it's writers to achieve [and excel] at. 97% of the slush pile does not meet these standards.

That's not meant to put you off, you should use it as a motivator to be in the top 2-3%. Most of all you really need to develop a thick skin. I've had my share of shitty [personal attacks] critiques, soul-destroying rejections from agents. Then there are the publisher rejections, set backs in the publishing process, bad reviews and nasty reader reviews.

If you want to achieve publication, you will need to learn to welcome the negative criticism.

timewaster
10-08-2011, 11:25 AM
[QUOTE=Christyp;6625223]When I found WD, and AW I was ecstatic. I knew absolutely nothing about the publishing world (I actually googled, "how to publish a novel"). A couple of people, literally two, quickly came to my aid, declaring their undying friendship. Well, to make a loooonnnng story short...we're no longer friends.

My husband said all art is subjective, as is the people who create it. I guess I was naive and believed we would all be cheer leaders for eachother, and hold hands when someone was feeling like jumping from the top of the Eifel tower. Now, I'm extremely gun shy, and haven't joined another crit group for fear of a repeat perfermance.


You don't need a cheer leader not if you want to be successful - you do want honest, straightforward criticism if you can accept it without falling apart.

Charles Farley
10-08-2011, 11:37 AM
My husband said all art is subjective, as is the people who create it.


Sounds like a fun guy . .

Not all art is great .. nor writing . . but when we have the guts to find out if your husband is wrong . . . yeah . . Im done . .

Theo81
10-08-2011, 12:28 PM
With a crit group, it's important for everybody to be clear what they are critting for. On the boards, I think most of us crit according to "is this good enough to send to an agent". Is it harsh? Yes. Does it help? I hope so.
Ultimately, you are the person who decides whether or not the advice is valid. If it makes sense to you, listen. If there are lots of people saying the same thing, listen. Don't assume the person handing out the advice doesn't know what they are talking about just because you don't like hearing it - lots of people around here prefer to maintain a degree of privacy about their lives. Don't make the mistake of thinking somebody who knows what they are talking about is always right. Don't make the mistake of thinking anybody cares enough to deliberately tear you down because they are a "troll" or because they resent your genius, you are really not that important.




If you want a cheerleader, I can thoroughly recommend Authonomy. I want to be a good writer, I make the assumption other people do too. If I say something about your writing, you have managed to make me care enough to do so. That is a huge first step.

Crits are not the worst thing which can happen. The worst thing is when nobody has anything to say about it.

Don't be discouraged. A crit is not a personal attack. If you aren't ready to have them, that's okay. There'll still be opinionated people around when you're ready.
And always remember, you're allowed another go.

Terie
10-08-2011, 01:16 PM
Some people are just nasty critiquers. They're in it to help no one, only to build themselves up.

I used to be in a bloody good in-person crit group. It was a proper one, not a 'pat you on the shoulder and congratulate you for having written' one. My work improved tremendously, thanks to this group.

Then a guy like Katrina describes joined. He was a good critter when he focused on the story, and he ultimately became part of the BFF (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bff) clique. As a matter of fact, before his arrival, there really wasn't much of a BFF clique, but his personality is one of those that engenders that type of thing.

He grew jealous of my success (I had five books published or in the pipline; he had none). He started being really nasty in his crits of my work, but cuz he was in the BFF clique, he got away with it. Then one night he went far over the line in our social e-mail loop...one of those things where he meant to send his snarky comments about me personally (and only subsidiarily about my writing) to one guy and accidentally sent them to the loop.

Because he was in the BFF clique, nothing really happened. Sure, some of the people, even in the clique, were angry with him and told him so, but other than that, there were no consequences. Then when his tune changed into blaming ME for what happened and many of the people followed his lead down that road, I left the group.

I miss the excellent critiques I got from the group, and I'd love to find another one as good as that one. Good crits that help you spot what's wrong in your work are incredibly valuable. But when things get personal, there can be insurmountable problems.

Jealousy is always a problem in a crit group when someone achieves success (and from the OP's recent thread in the Ask the Agent forum, I suspect this is what happened to her). We all experience the roar of the green-eyed monster inside us on occasion, no matter how much we know we shouldn't. The trick is to learn to keep it to oneself and not let it spill over into one's crits or relationships with the other members.

Prisoner24601
10-08-2011, 03:32 PM
My husband said all art is subjective, as is the people who create it. I guess I was naive and believed we would all be cheer leaders for eachother, and hold hands when someone was feeling like jumping from the top of the Eifel tower. Now, I'm extremely gun shy, and haven't joined another crit group for fear of a repeat perfermance.

Please tell me I'm not the only paranoid freak out there!

I don't know what happened to you specifically, but if this was the reason why you joined a crit group, then I can see why you were disappointed. The #1 purpose of a crit group is to critique your work - not hold your hand and tell you how awesome you are. If that's not something you can handle, then you probably shouldn't be joining them because you're going to be wasting everyone's time.

There are other very supportive, cheerleader type places if you look for them, especially on these boards. You should take a closer look around and perhaps spend time there instead.

NeuroFizz
10-08-2011, 03:37 PM
There are shared responsibilities in a good crit group.

Each member should provide CONSTRUCTIVE criticism.

All members should realize that solid, constructive crits are sometimes harsh and hard to take.

No one in the group should be a delicate flower who transfers criticism of a story into criticism of the author.

No one should go into a crit group expecting to have his/her ego stroked or to have his/her hard work put on a pedestal. If it happens, great.

If one wants admiration, get a dog.

Alessandra Kelley
10-08-2011, 03:53 PM
I'd like to add that communication online, although a tremendous boon, is inherently distanced. We don't really know each other, however familiar we may get with each other. Our online voice may or may not be much like our real-life one in person. Someone we get along with online may be intolerable in person, and vice versa. And online or no, someone we hit it off with at the start may not endure.

MacAllister and the mods enforce a certain politeness on the boards which I feel is absolutely essential to AW's civilised atmosphere. There is a wealth here of experience and willingness to help.

I'm sorry you had a bad experience. Please don't give up on this magnificent resource because of it.

Linda Adams
10-08-2011, 03:54 PM
Do make sure you have the right expectations for the critique group. A lot of people go into one for the first time thinking their story is the next greatest best seller and that everyone will praise it. So they are expecting praise and get a rude shock when people find things wrong.

The purpose of a critique is not to praise the writer and be a cheerleader -- it's to give comments about what's wrong in the story. Sometimes the writer doesn't want hear it. Even when you do want it, it still can be an emotional hit. I always suggest just writing down the comments and not saying anything, and then looking at them later, after the emotional hit is over. Sometimes you'll see that they were right. Sometimes you'll see that something else was going on, which will also help you deal with the critique.

If you want to get your feet wet again, resist the temptation to rush your story in for critique. Instead, give critiques. You will learn more about how they work by doing them yourself and seeing other people's reactions.

gothicangel
10-08-2011, 05:21 PM
I'm a tough critter. I make no apologies for that. What annoys me is when I've given up my time for free to help someone improve, and all the thanks I get is attitude.

Now 99% of the time the OP's are grateful and thank me, but every so often there is one who doesn't appreciate that I have given up my free time not to be their cheerleader.

Soccer Mom
10-08-2011, 06:18 PM
You do need critters or beta readers and you do need cheerleaders, but they don't need to be the same people. They can be, however. You need cheerleaders who can pick you up when you doubt yourself, who understand tough edits, who can talk you down from the ledge while querying.

You need critters or betas for honest feedback. People who won't lie and tellyou everything is perfect when it isn't.

Take something, make it the best you can, and post it in SYW. Then, go play in the Office Party and make some silly writer friends who can cheer you through the bad times.

Toothpaste
10-08-2011, 06:22 PM
I just wanted to add something to this thread. If you read the OP's other threads, you'll learn what her experience was with a particular crit group, and you'll realise that this thread is not about her being too sensitive to criticism, but getting some really terrible advice from her crit group, one that comes across as petty and jealous.

So for that reason, I don't think it's necessary to warn her that should she seek out critiques she should expect people to be honest and not sugar coat their comments.

It's tough to trust again when you've been burned. I totally understand that. And that's why you must approach new relationships cautiously. Yes, if you post your work here people will be honest, sometimes bluntly so, but it is very rare indeed that people here are mean. Why? Because if anyone is disrespectful they get a stern warning from a moderator. For that reason it might be safest to post here online as opposed to making relationships here and then taking it offline. I'm not saying you can't do that eventually, but for now, to stay in the land of the cautious, use the protections that AW affords to help prevent a repeat of what you unfortunately went through.

Perks
10-08-2011, 06:36 PM
Yes, I've been threatened by my favorite critique partner that my poor efforts will be printed out, wrapped around a cricket bat, and then used to bludgeon me to death.

And still, it's excellent advice.

Hang in there. You'll find the people you'll need.

As for the rest? Eff 'em.

Determination
10-08-2011, 06:45 PM
I think at the end of the day it comes down to trusting your own gut instinct. It's hard to get your work picked apart by others but nine times out of ten a critique will spot a grammar flaw or a plot hole that you've missed. It hurts but at the end of the day that makes you a better writer. A lot of times we can't see out own faults.

Yet I think sometimes we reach a point when can outgrow those same people. If you feel like instead of giving you valuable advice on your work they are holding you back in your career and even giving you bad advice on purpose, then it's time to step back. Your gut should tell you what to believe. A lot of people get jealous when someone forges ahead and gets a lucky break while they are still struggling. Those are not the sort of people you want around when your career takes an upswing. Sometimes you'll find other people to take their place or perhaps you just want to go it alone for a while. There are good people out there but, as always, there can be a bunch of crappy ones too.

fireluxlou
10-08-2011, 07:00 PM
I felt so bad for you in the other thread. Those people were not helpful and gave you all the wrong advice.

They told you to get rid of your agent and offer as self pubbing is the way to go? and it sounded like all petty jealousy. Don't worry here is much better, people are actually constructive and don't resort to jealousy tactics to make you feel like you're the biggest pile of crap in the world like your writing crit group did.

The op doesn't need the "you have to be prepared for criticism if you are expecting cheerleaders then go somewhere else comments" if you haven't really read her other threads, I don't think you should be belittling her with those kind of comments.

kaitie
10-08-2011, 07:13 PM
Thanks for the clarification, Toothpaste.

Some people are jerks, some people are immature, and to be honest some people are so insecure that the only way they can keep working themselves is to bring down others.

It's awful, but it's not true of everyone. I've received a couple of iffy critiques before, and more than that I've read quite a few. Part of the difficulty finding a good critique partner is learning how to disregard those critiques that aren't helpful or are rude in one way or the other.

I think that's a little harder to do when it's someone you've made friends with, and most of my critiques now come from friends, but I trust them and have worked with them over time. I think the best thing you can do is put them behind you and realize that not everyone (and not even most) are going to treat you this way. And you know what to look for now, too.

This is going to sound a little horrible, but the first time going through something like that is generally the worst. It's nothing personal, and if anything it says more about your writing partner. If you see it again, you know that's someone you want to avoid.

Sage
10-08-2011, 07:36 PM
One of my friends in my NaNo group (a writing group, but not a crit group, although two of them are betaing my stuff) was part of a very close-knit crit group. They were all friends, they went to Italy together. They had very specific rules for critting that sounded fabulous to me, but the point to this story is that they considered themselves close friends.

This story is not about how critting tore them apart, although it's easy to see how that could happen.

No, one of them gave my friend a printed-out copy of her novel to read for fun. She did so right before April, when my friend was going to be doing Scriptfrenzy, so she was like, I'll probably read it in May, but I look forward to it. But she kinda got the vibe that the other girl was hoping she'd read it sooner, so she was reading it each morning as she got ready for work.

One day, she spilled an entire cup of tea over the manuscript. She was running late, and so she grabbed some towels and threw them over the ms, hoping that they would sop up the tea. No, instead she ended up with a brick of paper that she could not pry apart. It was completely unsalvageable. So she threw it away and worried about how to tell her friend.

The next day the friend called. She had gone to a writer's workshop a bit ago, and completely changed her novel based off comments she got there, but she hadn't saved the original copy, and she decided she wanted to go back. My friend had the ONLY copy. When she told her what had happened, the other girl flipped out, then told everyone else in the group that my friend had stolen her novel to try to publish it herself, and they all turned against her.

I don't know what the moral of the story is, except "back up your work."

Anyway, there are definitely times that writers can get jealous and try to sabotage other writers in their groups, but there are also writer's groups where everyone is supportive, but can also be constructively critical too. My NaNo group is mostly oriented towards the beginning stages of the novel, "how can I plot this?" "how many words did you write today?" "did you work on that novel of yours I love this week?" type of stuff. But they're good for betaing too. I'm also part of another close writing group that started here on AW, and we often beta each other, and know how to be critical for full novels, excerpts, and queries, but also how to hold hands and support each other when it's needed. If I know a novel's not ready to be sent out, I will speak my mind about that, but if the writer sends it out anyway, I'll still be there cheerleading their queries and fulls.

It's just a matter of finding those groups.

bearilou
10-08-2011, 07:51 PM
:( I'm so sorry you went through that. As I read through the comments offered in firm but kind spirit, I offer this.

Here at AW you'll find both those writers who wish you the best and in that vein will tell you some hard things. Many of the AWers do try their hardest to be gentle with it, but they still don't pull punches. There are a few who are raging jerks (which is also subjective. Who I think is a wafflenoggin is not thought to be one by someone else) but as your time here continues, you'll know who to roll your eyes at and ignore and who to listen to.

But when I discovered that even the wafflenoggins are cheerleaders in their own way. They want you to succeed. They want you to be happy what you're doing.

When they don their critique hats, they're telling you what you should hear and it's not with the intent to tear you down, even if that is what it may feel like. You will need to gird your loins and take their comments in the spirit intended.

For the most part, people here are good folks. They give back pats and cheers when needed.

Jamesaritchie
10-08-2011, 09:11 PM
If it's all subjective, then everything out there is just as good as everything else, so why try to improve?

Only good is subjective. When King is better than Koontz, or whether Block is better than Spillane, is subjective because they're all very good in one way or another.

Bad stinks worse than road kill skunk. All "art" is not good, and certainly not everything people write is worth half as much as the time it takes to say it stinks. Maybe a four inch piece of rope nailed to an old board is as good as a Rembrandt. I don't know, and I don't care. But words like "art" and "subjective" are generally no more than an excuse to justify lack of talent, lack of quality, and a need to get better.

Writing is not all good. Most of what lands in the average slush pile is suck dead bunny, road kill skunk bad, and no matter how many times you say "art" or "subjective" it still sucks, and it still sucks, and it still stinks.

If you want to get better, you have to accept this.

Friends are good, but a critique is supposed to be about telling you what's wrong, what's right, and what you can do about it. If it's all subjective, there is no right or wrong, and no reason to improve.

Prisoner24601
10-08-2011, 09:18 PM
The op doesn't need the "you have to be prepared for criticism if you are expecting cheerleaders then go somewhere else comments" if you haven't really read her other threads, I don't think you should be belittling her with those kind of comments.

Wait a minute now. Why should we have to read all of her other threads all over the boards to understand the context of this one post? If context is necessary, which in this case it sounds like it is, it's up to her as the original poster to provide it and not up to everyone else to start digging around so they can figure out what she's talking about.

Because really this:


When I found WD, and AW I was ecstatic. I knew absolutely nothing about the publishing world (I actually googled, "how to publish a novel"). A couple of people, literally two, quickly came to my aid, declaring their undying friendship. Well, to make a loooonnnng story short...we're no longer friends.

My husband said all art is subjective, as is the people who create it. I guess I was naive and believed we would all be cheer leaders for eachother, and hold hands when someone was feeling like jumping from the top of the Eifel tower. Now, I'm extremely gun shy, and haven't joined another crit group for fear of a repeat perfermance.

Please tell me I'm not the only paranoid freak out there!

on it's own sounds like yet another thread that pops up around here every month or so, after someone wanders into the SYW forums and starts crying about how mean everyone is. I really don't blame people for coming to the wrong conclusion.

Christyp
10-08-2011, 09:27 PM
Are you expecting everyone to gush lovingly over your work? If so, you're in for a hard time anywhere in this universe.

caw

No gushing necessary. I'd settle for backstabbers to refrain from using me as a subject of their blog every time they disagree with me. Don't like my genre? Better call me the wicked witch. Hate my choice of agent? Tell people I'm ugly.

I'm not exaggerating...this really happened, and continues to happen even though I left the group months ago and haven't had anything to do with the people since.

gothicangel
10-08-2011, 09:33 PM
No gushing necessary. I'd settle for backstabbers to refrain from using me as a subject of their blog every time they disagree with me. Don't like my genre? Better call me the wicked witch. Hate my choice of agent? Tell people I'm ugly.

I'm not exaggerating...this really happened, and continues to happen even though I left the group months ago and haven't had anything to do with the people since.

In which case I would send them a cease and desist letter. And if that doesn't work, see a solicitor and start legal proceeding for defamation of character.

Susan Littlefield
10-08-2011, 09:41 PM
When I found WD, and AW I was ecstatic. I knew absolutely nothing about the publishing world (I actually googled, "how to publish a novel"). A couple of people, literally two, quickly came to my aid, declaring their undying friendship. Well, to make a loooonnnng story short...we're no longer friends.

My husband said all art is subjective, as is the people who create it. I guess I was naive and believed we would all be cheer leaders for eachother, and hold hands when someone was feeling like jumping from the top of the Eifel tower. Now, I'm extremely gun shy, and haven't joined another crit group for fear of a repeat perfermance.

Please tell me I'm not the only paranoid freak out there!

I'd like more information on your experience here. You use phrases like "declaring their undying friendship," "we would all be cheer leaders for each other," "hold hands." What does this all mean? To me, it sounds like high too-good-to-be-true expectations.

Critique group members tell each other the truth about their writing. They are honest with assessments of writing, whether it is negative or positive. The recipient takes what they like and leave the rest.

When you join a critique group, nobody will tell us our work is wonderful. If they do, we need to find a new critique group or not go at all.

That said, critique groups are not for everyone. I'm no longer in one, but that is only because I don't have the time to devote. However, when i was in one (actually, I've been in two), I learned the most from the second group who shared their honest assessment of my work rather then the first group, who thought my writing was perfect and awesome.

Edited to add: I see there's more information on your experience from what others have posted about another thread? Sounds like you got some bad advice from tohers.

Christyp
10-08-2011, 09:41 PM
Sounds like a fun guy . .

Not all art is great .. nor writing . . but when we have the guts to find out if your husband is wrong . . . yeah . . Im done . .

I'm sorry, this one lost me. I don't understand what you were trying to say.

CrastersBabies
10-08-2011, 09:44 PM
There are a few things that come to mind on this very topic. One begins with a short story.....

I remember telling this woman (that I just met), "I'm a writer."
She looked at me and said, "but you're so nice."
Me, "What do you mean?"
She, "All the writers I meet are assholes."

At that point in my life I hadn't met a whole lot of writers. There were a few here and there and all seemed pleasant enough.

But, as I began to associate more with writers I learned that there are, in fact, a good number of loathsome individuals in my profession. I think it's an artist thing, not a "writer" thing, though.

In my humble (and probably silly) opinion, it boils down to insecurity. The nastier people are to other writers, the more insecure they are about their own work. Writing is intimate. It's not something you do as a team sport. You hole up and start pounding on the keys. It's you on the page in some form or another--your ideas, your thoughts, your creativity, your soul, your heart, your fears, desires, loves, wants, hates, passions.

You're putting it out there for the world to see (or a few people, depending on how much you share your work).

But, there are people out there who do get some kind of sick pleasure from badmouthing your work in such a way that they feel better about themselves. Those are usually the people you avoid (or put on the ignore list) because they're incapable of allowing another person joy in their craft and tearing YOU down means they are king of the hill in their own little world.

In short, there are bullies in the artistic world same as Facebook (or high school or Cobra Kai) and your job is to find your Mr. Miyagi, or a group of Miyagis, and leave the riffraff behind.

I don't stick with my own writing group because they blow sunshine up my derriere. I stick with them because they know their stuff and they can relay it to me without turning into gigantic, turd-eating megalomaniac twat-waffles.

The sad part is, you'll probably meet quite a few of the latter and fewer of the Miyagis because it's usually the quiet ones that give that perfect blend of negative/positive feedback, that point out things you would never have seen (a gazillion years), who can sit across from you and have a conversation about your work instead of punching your psyche in the face with their ugly mitts.

The good part is that the buttmonkeys usually display themselves in their own fecal embarrassment right off the bat and you can avoid them like the swine flu.

Simply put, if they have no tact in their criticism of your writing, move on.

If they are giving you too many fluffy bunnies and giggles, move on.

If they are telling you something that's hard to swallow (because most of the time it's true) and they do it in a way that doesn't make them look like "The Situation" on crack, then hey.... keep that person around.

In the end, you take what you WANT from a critique group. Nobody's forcing you to make the changes that they bring up. But, I often find that the person I'm resisting the most (who can articulate critique in a thoughtful, meaningful way) is the person I should be paying attention to the most.

Christyp
10-08-2011, 09:50 PM
I used to be in a bloody good in-person crit group. It was a proper one, not a 'pat you on the shoulder and congratulate you for having written' one. My work improved tremendously, thanks to this group.

Then a guy like Katrina describes joined. He was a good critter when he focused on the story, and he ultimately became part of the BFF (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bff) clique. As a matter of fact, before his arrival, there really wasn't much of a BFF clique, but his personality is one of those that engenders that type of thing.

He grew jealous of my success (I had five books published or in the pipline; he had none). He started being really nasty in his crits of my work, but cuz he was in the BFF clique, he got away with it. Then one night he went far over the line in our social e-mail loop...one of those things where he meant to send his snarky comments about me personally (and only subsidiarily about my writing) to one guy and accidentally sent them to the loop.

Because he was in the BFF clique, nothing really happened. Sure, some of the people, even in the clique, were angry with him and told him so, but other than that, there were no consequences. Then when his tune changed into blaming ME for what happened and many of the people followed his lead down that road, I left the group.

I miss the excellent critiques I got from the group, and I'd love to find another one as good as that one. Good crits that help you spot what's wrong in your work are incredibly valuable. But when things get personal, there can be insurmountable problems.

Jealousy is always a problem in a crit group when someone achieves success (and from the OP's recent thread in the Ask the Agent forum, I suspect this is what happened to her). We all experience the roar of the green-eyed monster inside us on occasion, no matter how much we know we shouldn't. The trick is to learn to keep it to oneself and not let it spill over into one's crits or relationships with the other members.

This was an issue I had before the troll got bitchy. We would all meet, take turns reading out chapters....then nothing. "Oh, that was really good." Okay, great, but I was there to grow and learn. I learned it was a clique and I was the outsider. I had agents asking for partials and fulls, and had been offered a contract. Only one person had ever published (former NYT bestseller) but had burned all the publishing bridges.

I would totally join a group of any serious critters..as long as they were critting my work and not my looks!

Susan Littlefield
10-08-2011, 09:54 PM
This was an issue I had before the troll got bitchy. We would all meet, take turns reading out chapters....then nothing. "Oh, that was really good." Okay, great, but I was there to grow and learn. I learned it was a clique and I was the outsider. I had agents asking for partials and fulls, and had been offered a contract. Only one person had ever published (former NYT bestseller) but had burned all the publishing bridges.

I would totally join a group of any serious critters..as long as they were critting my work and not my looks!

Huh? Why would you think others are critiquing your looks? That's odd.

Christyp
10-08-2011, 10:06 PM
I don't know what happened to you specifically, but if this was the reason why you joined a crit group, then I can see why you were disappointed. The #1 purpose of a crit group is to critique your work - not hold your hand and tell you how awesome you are. If that's not something you can handle, then you probably shouldn't be joining them because you're going to be wasting everyone's time.

There are other very supportive, cheerleader type places if you look for them, especially on these boards. You should take a closer look around and perhaps spend time there instead.

I joined social forums full of writers to make "friends" who lived the solitary writers life. I joined a crit group for critiques and received none. The crit group turned into social hour, which spilled over onto the forums and blogs.

Christyp
10-08-2011, 10:10 PM
I'm a tough critter. I make no apologies for that. What annoys me is when I've given up my time for free to help someone improve, and all the thanks I get is attitude.

Now 99% of the time the OP's are grateful and thank me, but every so often there is one who doesn't appreciate that I have given up my free time not to be their cheerleader.

Shit, I'd pay for the crit of my stories...I don't see why it's necessary for someone to attack me personally. That's my huge problem. I don't feel anyone online, or even someone I spend one hour a month with knows enough about me to attack my character...

Susan Littlefield
10-08-2011, 10:13 PM
Lest any of you think I'm exaggerating....

"Hansel and Gretl went outside to play in the world one day when they happened upon a beautiful lady. But this lady was not all what she seemed. Little did they know, that she was the Wicked Witch and that they should stay clear of her. But, looks are deceiving sometimes, and they didn't see through her disguise."



"N****B (http://www.blogger.com/profile/12685538277690762655)****** said...
I wouldn't call the witch beautiful...though as I recall, Snow White's witch actually thought she was beautiful.

Must have been that funhouse mirror...."

Yep, someone wrote an entire blog about me based on not only a lie, but a private, heart-felt conversation.

They used your name and everything? I would certainly write a letter to them and demand they take the entry about you down.

Christyp
10-08-2011, 10:13 PM
I just wanted to add something to this thread. If you read the OP's other threads, you'll learn what her experience was with a particular crit group, and you'll realise that this thread is not about her being too sensitive to criticism, but getting some really terrible advice from her crit group, one that comes across as petty and jealous.

So for that reason, I don't think it's necessary to warn her that should she seek out critiques she should expect people to be honest and not sugar coat their comments.

It's tough to trust again when you've been burned. I totally understand that. And that's why you must approach new relationships cautiously. Yes, if you post your work here people will be honest, sometimes bluntly so, but it is very rare indeed that people here are mean. Why? Because if anyone is disrespectful they get a stern warning from a moderator. For that reason it might be safest to post here online as opposed to making relationships here and then taking it offline. I'm not saying you can't do that eventually, but for now, to stay in the land of the cautious, use the protections that AW affords to help prevent a repeat of what you unfortunately went through.

This. Wish I'd seen this before trying to respond to everyone..

Christyp
10-08-2011, 10:30 PM
In which case I would send them a cease and desist letter. And if that doesn't work, see a solicitor and start legal proceeding for defamation of character.

I can do that? Someone told me that because they weren't using my full name there as nothing I could do...

D.M.Drake
10-08-2011, 10:38 PM
With a crit group, it's important for everybody to be clear what they are critting for. On the boards, I think most of us crit according to "is this good enough to send to an agent". Is it harsh? Yes. Does it help? I hope so.
Ultimately, you are the person who decides whether or not the advice is valid. If it makes sense to you, listen. If there are lots of people saying the same thing, listen. Don't assume the person handing out the advice doesn't know what they are talking about just because you don't like hearing it - lots of people around here prefer to maintain a degree of privacy about their lives. Don't make the mistake of thinking somebody who knows what they are talking about is always right. Don't make the mistake of thinking anybody cares enough to deliberately tear you down because they are a "troll" or because they resent your genius, you are really not that important.
I wanted to point out this is based on a real event, (Not here in AW) where a self-proclaimed 'best seller' writer who later refused to give his/her name, or the name of the book, literally told me "You should just quit, the story is s*%# and no one in their right mind would read it." Yet you have helped me a lot with the query letter and you never once said anything like that, you have been constructive every step of the way. (For Eden I admit, it must have been annoying.)
The person treated several other new writers the same way and later joked with a friend of mine, (in the group) that it was fun to "make newbies cry and rage quit."
So not all critique groups are honest and some do enjoy tearing people down for the fun of it.
Oh, and Theo, I got a request for a partial, crossing my fingers and couldn't have done it without you!

In closing, there are a lot of nice people here, and I don't think they'll call you ugly :)

Christyp
10-08-2011, 10:41 PM
I wanted to point out this is based on a real event, (Not here in AW) where a self-proclaimed 'best seller' writer who later refused to give his/her name, or the name of the book, literally told me "You should just quit, the story is s*%# and no one in their right mind would read it." Yet you have helped me a lot with the query letter and you never once said anything like that, you have been constructive every step of the way. (For Eden I admit, it must have been annoying.)
The person treated several other new writers the same way and later joked with a friend of mine, (in the group) that it was fun to "make newbies cry and rage quit."
So not all critique groups are honest and some do enjoy tearing people down for the fun of it.
Oh, and Theo, I got a request for a partial, crossing my fingers and couldn't have done it without you!

In closing, there are a lot of nice people here, and I don't think they'll call you ugly :)

Never understood why they attacked my looks...what, are we in fifth grade now?

Congrats on the request for the partial! Looking forward to starting over with the querying game!

quicklime
10-08-2011, 10:45 PM
When I found WD, and AW I was ecstatic. I knew absolutely nothing about the publishing world (I actually googled, "how to publish a novel"). A couple of people, literally two, quickly came to my aid, declaring their undying friendship. Well, to make a loooonnnng story short...we're no longer friends.

My husband said all art is subjective, as is the people who create it. I guess I was naive and believed we would all be cheer leaders for eachother, and hold hands when someone was feeling like jumping from the top of the Eifel tower. Now, I'm extremely gun shy, and haven't joined another crit group for fear of a repeat perfermance.

Please tell me I'm not the only paranoid freak out there!


Flame suit on, and proceeding...


The problem with "the arts" as a whole is because they are subjective, there is a lot of douchery that gets excused with a "you don't appreciate my genius". Lots of useless little flowers spring up demanding you listen to them, or asking you for advice they have no real intention of hearing beyond any words of praise you'd like to heap at their feet....basically, anyone can "call themselves an artist". And some with no business doing do manage to make more noise than anyone else.

On the flip side, most of the folks I know who write commercially seem about like the guy in the next cubicle, or a nice neighbor...other than that they're a bit more literate than most. They do, and if there's a problem, they fix, instead of just sucking all the air out of the room.

The trick is making sure you're one of the second group, and if you're starting a crit group, that most of them are as well. You don't need enablers, you don't need bitter jackasses who will trash your work to elevate their own, you need real writers. But there is no secret handshake or ID badge, and a lot of posers out there. You gotta sort out who you're becoming entangled with for yourself, and it can take a bit of time....

D.M.Drake
10-08-2011, 10:47 PM
Never understood why they attacked my looks...what, are we in fifth grade now?

Congrats on the request for the partial! Looking forward to starting over with the querying game!

I recommend QHL, (query letter hell) You'll get some great advice... my first attempt was sad, but after what 13? (I might be exaggerating) I used the knowledge and advice to re write, it is not perfect, or even great, but it's working now :D
Thank you for the congrats :)
Attacking you looks, fifth grade? Maybe. Everyone hears stories of the 25 year old woman who is actually a thirteen year old boy. Just sayin' :) Honestly though, if they went after your looks they can't be that imaginative.

quicklime
10-08-2011, 11:09 PM
as mentioned, you can get some crits in syw, where there are enforced standards of conduct....

timewaster
10-08-2011, 11:09 PM
This was an issue I had before the troll got bitchy. We would all meet, take turns reading out chapters....then nothing. "Oh, that was really good." Okay, great, but I was there to grow and learn. I learned it was a clique and I was the outsider. I had agents asking for partials and fulls, and had been offered a contract. Only one person had ever published (former NYT bestseller) but had burned all the publishing bridges.

I would totally join a group of any serious critters..as long as they were critting my work and not my looks!

What you are describing is not critting but a kind of bullying. I can see why it would put you off. Hard critting can be useful - personal comments are unacceptable.

Dark River
10-09-2011, 01:59 AM
I have been following this thread with great interest. It seems that some understood it wasn't about having everyone 'gush lovingly' over your work. It seemed to me to be about betrayal within friendship. Some gave good and generous advice and some sounded bitter and nasty and more than a bit jealous.

Like Blacbird.

Crasterbabies-post #32-I am saving your post because it made more sense about the whole problem than anyone else.

Quicklime-post #42-I loved your post as well. It seems both of you are practical and honest while still being generous and kind.

As for the original poster. Since I was the first person that supported you and got what you were actually saying, I think a brief comment would have been nice. But as we've learned by reading this thread-being an 'artist' does not make us all best friends.

Fruitbat
10-09-2011, 02:28 AM
Well,it just sounds weird, but not limited to crit groups. Quite often new friendships just don't last. After all, look at how many we've ever had and how many are still with us. So, it not working out is not really surprising.

However, usually adults just move on. The harrassment sounds strange. This is an ankle-biter personality. She's trying to draw others in with her, and also gouging you from a safe distance. If it's done, I'd just move on. If it continues, I bet a cease and desist order from an attorney would put a stop to this immature nonsense.

I don't consider anybody I've known for less than a couple of years to be in the close friend category, so they can annoy me but they can't hurt me too much. As we see, it takes time for someone to show all their sides. I wouldn't let it ruin future group joining. It's weird and would probably never happen again.

CrastersBabies
10-09-2011, 02:30 AM
Flame suit on, and proceeding...


The problem with "the arts" as a whole is because they are subjective, there is a lot of douchery that gets excused with a "you don't appreciate my genius". Lots of useless little flowers spring up demanding you listen to them, or asking you for advice they have no real intention of hearing beyond any words of praise you'd like to heap at their feet....basically, anyone can "call themselves an artist". And some with no business doing do manage to make more noise than anyone else.

On the flip side, most of the folks I know who write commercially seem about like the guy in the next cubicle, or a nice neighbor...other than that they're a bit more literate than most. They do, and if there's a problem, they fix, instead of just sucking all the air out of the room.

The trick is making sure you're one of the second group, and if you're starting a crit group, that most of them are as well. You don't need enablers, you don't need bitter jackasses who will trash your work to elevate their own, you need real writers. But there is no secret handshake or ID badge, and a lot of posers out there. You gotta sort out who you're becoming entangled with for yourself, and it can take a bit of time....

Very eloquently put. :)

CrastersBabies
10-09-2011, 02:38 AM
I have been following this thread with great interest. It seems that some understood it wasn't about having everyone 'gush lovingly' over your work. It seemed to me to be about betrayal within friendship. Some gave good and generous advice and some sounded bitter and nasty and more than a bit jealous.

Like Blacbird.

Crasterbabies-post #32-I am saving your post because it made more sense about the whole problem than anyone else.

Quicklime-post #42-I loved your post as well. It seems both of you are practical and honest while still being generous and kind.

As for the original poster. Since I was the first person that supported you and got what you were actually saying, I think a brief comment would have been nice. But as we've learned by reading this thread-being an 'artist' does not make us all best friends.

I agree that the whole situation sounds very poisonous. Sorry that the OP had to go through that.

I think once you reach a certain level of confidence and maturity in your own writing, you really learn how to revel in your fellow writers' successes. I have about a dozen writers that I talk to on a regular basis (some from grad school, some from other venues) and whenever I hear about one of them succeeding, I go through the roof with excitement.

But, it took me a long time to find my "people." I have two from undergrad, about half a dozen from grad school and a few more that I met along the lonely writing road.

Consider that I've met 20 times that number of people that simply did not jive with my own process (wrong, right, good, bad).

It's like internet dating only you aren't getting groped under the table by some drunken accountant who thinks that dinner = hot sex in the parking lot afterwards.

Kiss some more frogs. See where the prince (or princess) pops up.

timewaster
10-09-2011, 02:39 AM
I have been following this thread with great interest. It seems that some understood it wasn't about having everyone 'gush lovingly' over your work. It seemed to me to be about betrayal within friendship. Some gave good and generous advice and some sounded bitter and nasty and more than a bit jealous.

Like Blacbird.

Crasterbabies-post #32-I am saving your post because it made more sense about the whole problem than anyone else.

Quicklime-post #42-I loved your post as well. It seems both of you are practical and honest while still being generous and kind.

As for the original poster. Since I was the first person that supported you and got what you were actually saying, I think a brief comment would have been nice. But as we've learned by reading this thread-being an 'artist' does not make us all best friends.

I think you get helpful and unhelpful people in every field. I'm not sure that writers as a group are any worse than say academics or businessmen - for some people life is a competition in which for them to win other people have to lose.

DreamWeaver
10-09-2011, 04:57 AM
It's always a good idea to judge whom to interact with by their posting behavior, which evidently is a lesson the OP has taken to heart. Good for her.

DancingMaenid
10-09-2011, 09:00 AM
I think it's very tempting, when you're part of X group of people (in this case, writers), to expect others in X group to be friendly and a good, supportive community. But when it comes down to it, you're dealing with people. Some are going to be great, but you're going to have some stinkers, too. Logically, it's common sense that a single characteristic or interest isn't going to make someone a pleasant person or a good ally, but I think we're often inclined to assume that's the case.

Another thing, it can difficult to find a compatible group, sometimes. You had a really bad experience, but sometimes even good groups just aren't a good fit. I've found I have the best luck with beta readers and large, informal critique forums like the SYW forums here, because success isn't so dependent on finding the right group dynamic with the right structure. Sometimes you can make an imperfect fit work, and you can get a lot of good critiques, but it can be disappointing if you go into it expecting to find a bunch of kindred spirits and you don't find that. This may not be an issue for you, since your concerns seem to be more about truly toxic groups and individuals. But still, you have to be realistic about the chances of finding a writing "soul mate." It can happen, but it may not happen immediately. That doesn't mean you can't get some good advice and critiques, though.

Good luck, and I think if you hang around here, you should have pretty good luck. I think this could be a good environment for regaining some confidence. :)

gothicangel
10-09-2011, 11:22 AM
I have been following this thread with great interest. It seems that some understood it wasn't about having everyone 'gush lovingly' over your work. It seemed to me to be about betrayal within friendship. Some gave good and generous advice and some sounded bitter and nasty and more than a bit jealous.



I took a look at a post the OP made in SYW in '10, and I saw plenty of room for improvement. I'm not so ready to jump on the jeloose band wagon just yet. I don't know what was said on the other forum, so can't comment. Maybe the critiquers lack a certain communication skill?

I didn't post a crit, as it was an old thread. But if the OP is interested I will.

skylark
10-09-2011, 12:55 PM
It sounds like you had a truly grim experience, christyp, and I do recommend SYW here for building your confidence back.

The problem, and the reason you're not perhaps getting the reaction you'd anticipated, is that I can't be the only person who's seen your first post, practically word-for-word, written by someone whose critiquers had politely suggested she use spellcheck or paragraphs. Individuals draw their lines as to what's reasonable in very different places, and it wasn't apparent right away what had pushed you over yours.

IANAL, but as far as I know, they wouldn't have to use your full name for it to be defamation. It would just have to be obvious to other people that it was you they were talking about. If it really is that bad, is there Citizen's Advice or similar where you live?

How awful for us to have to be talking about getting legal advice based on friends critiquing one another's work :(

blacbird
10-10-2011, 02:17 AM
Wait a minute now. Why should we have to read all of her other threads all over the boards to understand the context of this one post? If context is necessary, which in this case it sounds like it is, it's up to her as the original poster to provide it and not up to everyone else to start digging around so they can figure out what she's talking about.

This, exactly. I posted the comment I did based on the OP in this thread, as did a number of others. When you start a thread, you own what you post, and whatever clarification it needs should be there, not lurking in a six-month-old thread in another forum.

Complaining about being misunderstood here is like having to explain a bad joke. In fact, it just adds to the sense of extra-sensitivity that still lingers in the OP, explanation or no explanation.

And we have had other threads much like this, too.

caw

Christyp
10-10-2011, 03:52 AM
After reading through your comments (someone tried to teach me how to quote several in one...not quite technologically savvy), just wanted to say thanks to everyone who took time out of their days to comment. I know my late night post may have seemed a little disjointed, but most of you got the gist...lol

I've taken some of your advice, and tiptoed into the SYW board. I actually got some very useful crits from some very smart people.

Again, thank you so much!!!

Soccer Mom
10-10-2011, 07:40 AM
Locking this since OP has gotten what she needed.

Kitty27
10-11-2011, 02:16 AM
1. Develop a tougher hide. The publishing industry isn't for simps.

2. Some people are naturally blunt and incapable of speaking prettily about your work. I posted this before but there was a guy in my old crit group who was extremely blunt. He told the raw truth and in my opinion,these kind of people are the best. Problems seem to arise when the super sensitive meet the super blunt. That's why it's important to specify what kind of crit you prefer. But if you only want praise and not the truth,then you aren't going to get the help you need.

3.You have to separate your feelings from your work. I know that is hard. But it must be done so you can see where things need improvement.
When someone gives an honest and constructive critique,don't act they are the bully that slapped you when you were a child and go all HAM on them. My query letter was critiqued by a member here. She ripped it apart and told me what worked and what didn't. I took her advice and that new query has gotten me requests for partials. From what I've seen,people on AW aren't deliberately mean. But they aren't going to hold your hand,either.


Without the marvelous resource that is AW,I wouldn't know how to format properly,write a decent query,or basically know anything about the publishing process.