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View Full Version : Have you ever had a reader psychoanalyze you?



Mark G
08-28-2013, 11:27 PM
Preface:
I had a critique group meeting last night, wherein one of the critique partners made a global judgment about our work, that none of the pieces lived up to what she thought we should do as writers: use our "platform" to help mold social conscience.

Mind you, I write FANTASY. I didn't argue the point about whether our writing needed to have an underlying social lesson in order to be relevant or fulfill my destiny as a writer or whatever. One of the other critique partners said that. :D

I did take the time to explain the subtle weaving of social conscience into the plot based on the actions of my characters. At this point, I have no hope of getting a valuable critique from this person; but I soldiered on and we survived the meeting.

The Email:
So this person sends me a 1200 word email after the meeting, explaining how her critique was "totally in the dark because [she] had no basis for understanding what [I] was doing" until my comments on the underlying message of my work helped her understand my perspective.

That part I could accept. I don't think reviewers should really care about the author's perspective (in my humble opinion). I think reviewers should be focused on the writing.

The part where I get Analyzed:

She then goes on to spend 300 words describing what she believes is my psychological motivation for writing.
Then 700 words on politics and why we need to use art to change the world.

Have you ever had to deal with something like this?
What did you do?

I'm guessing that as more readers see what I write, they will be tempted to start all kinds of discussion about the work and the author. This is just the first I've experienced.

mirandashell
08-28-2013, 11:34 PM
Ignore it. She went off on one on what is possibly her favourite subject. Doesn't mean you are obliged to engage with it.

cornflake
08-28-2013, 11:34 PM
Dude. People are nuts.

That said, saying it's fantasy isn't really a response to that in particular, as, you know, Avatar and etc.

However, people are nuts. I just mean anything you put out in the world anyplace will garner responses you didn't expect, can't fathom, think are way off, etc.

I once answered phones at the h.q. of a politician's campaign. Try that for a couple of days and learn how bananas the general populous can be. Just say 'thank you for taking the time; this is definitely something to think about' or some equivalent, and move on.

mirandashell
08-28-2013, 11:37 PM
Actually, Cornflake is right. Say 'thank you very much' and move on. People don't like being ignored.

Mark G
08-29-2013, 12:13 AM
Thanks! My first reaction was "ignore it", but the 300 words where she psychoanalyzed me and my internal motivations for my writing are something that really "poked the bear" in my mind.

I had to feed the Urge To Snarl And Bite In Response a sleeping pill while I stepped back and got some perspective.

mirandashell
08-29-2013, 12:15 AM
You know when you get a really stupid bad crit in SYW? Treat it like that. Nod and say thank you.

WildScribe
08-29-2013, 12:38 AM
Agreed, just say thanks and move on. She's obviously looking to engage, and if you answer back, you'll regret it. What's that saying about never arguing with stupid people because they'll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience? Something like that...

robjvargas
08-29-2013, 12:43 AM
I had to feed the Urge To Snarl And Bite In Response a sleeping pill while I stepped back and got some perspective.

Yeah, I understand that feeling. Don't. You did the right thing.

I've worked in customer service for companies that, shall we say, have less than sparkling reputations. If you take this kind of feedback personally, you're going to wind up on a stage, twerking.

;):crazy:

Or have an Amanda Bynes/Britney Spears meltdown.

Kathl33n
08-29-2013, 12:51 AM
Yeah, I understand that feeling. Don't. You did the right thing.

I've worked in customer service for companies that, shall we say, have less than sparkling reputations. If you take this kind of feedback personally, you're going to wind up on a stage, twerking.

;):crazy:

Or have an Amanda Bynes/Britney Spears meltdown.

LOL!!

Caitlin Black
08-29-2013, 01:04 AM
Just be glad you're not doing a University creative writing course, LOL!

In the classes I've been doing, everything we submit is analysed partly for writing skills/methods/etc. and partly for, "But what's the underlying metaphor/theme? What social/political message are you trying to send?" There's also a fair bit of psychanalysis, though so far it's fortunately been mostly centred on the characters in the stories. :)

I tend not to think in terms of metaphors or messages... Shadows of them peek through in my writing, but yeah, an entire crit session designed to figure out what my message is - bleh.

Can't a story just be a story?

KellyAssauer
08-29-2013, 03:44 AM
Preface:
Mind you, I write FANTASY....

She then goes on to spend 300 words describing what she believes is my psychological motivation for writing.
Then 700 words on politics and why we need to use art to change the world.

What did you do?

Terribly unpleasant things to the character based on her in my next story. Oh you betcha! :D

*The real person I would ignore*

**Although I do agree with her in that we should use art to change the world, but often the writer may never fully realize their that they are a product of their time and may unknowingly included themes that scholars will identify years later. This doesn't mean that they did so on purpose. I do purposely design my writing around social themes and I'd rather not read novels where the author paid no attention at all to what they wrote as long as it made them some cash. Not that this ever happens... can you say 50 shades?

Alexandra Little
08-29-2013, 04:56 AM
I was told that my story was very Oedipal in tone and I must be writing that because it is present in my own life. I wasn't sure how that was considered a critique. I ended up going to the dean of the program about it and other things. Not that it helped much.

Best I can advise is just to thank the person for their critique, and then ignore what they suggest.

sdevonh
08-29-2013, 05:02 AM
Live and let live.. And be flattered that she thought your plight worthy of a 1200 word email. I personally would love to be psycho analyzed, but then I am my own favorite subject.

Cathy C
08-29-2013, 06:01 AM
Normally, I would agree with cornflake to say thanks and move on. But . . . this is a member of an in-person critique group and I can say from experience that a simple thank you won't be the end of it because the person is hovering like a vulture, waiting for your answer in order to pounce down on your writing to critique it.

The critique is still hanging out there and thanks won't wash it away.

My advice is yes, to thank her, but also to excuse her from the critique. Something like, "Wow. It's so nice of you to put so much thought into your critiques. But honestly . . . I haven't really thought about the story in that way. It's a really good question, though. I'll have to think on it for a bit. For right now, why don't you just hold off and if I can come up with an answer for you, I'll ask you to look at it again."

Rug effectively pulled out from under the bully pulpit, and you can still face her in the next meeting. :D