A southern girl in the Pacific Northwest

So you know how earlier I mentioned that I’m in the critique group with two people I don’t like much? Well, it ended up being a total shit show tonight.

First of all, the two people were discussing the piece beforehand, which is fine, Ethan and I do that frequently, but I could HEAR them and they were just tearing it to pieces, and not being governed at all, it was very judgmental and not in a helpful way. They probably did not realize I could hear them, but it solidified my desire to not be in a group with them again and CERTAINLY not to have them in my own group when I workshop something.

Then, about 20 minutes in, a woman wandered in and sat down with us and started bitching that she hadn’t read the story (hello….), so I offered her my copy, which she read 2 pages of and then tossed down, and MADE A FACE. “No. I’m not reading that,” she said. I was so shocked at her rudeness – I know my mouth was hanging open. The author, who was sitting directly next to her, turned and looked at her with a sort of horrified expression. He seemed a little shell-shocked because the 2 other people were just going to town on his work.

I finally piped up and gave him my thoughts and he seemed distinctly grateful. He even said, “Oh, you totally got it,” with this air of relief.

By the end of the session he had regained some equilibrium, had stood up to the two I don’t like, and just ignored the other woman. I had also stood up to the two I don’t like and studiously ignored the rude woman until the end when she was going on about “young writers these days not knowing how to use language properly or build a story in the right way.” I pointed out that the submission was non-traditional, and that the author intended it to be a certain tone, and she made a face again and said, “Well, I’M not the audience, that’s for sure.” (Ummm, then go to another group.)

At the end, the judgey guy said to me, “You know, I’d like to critique your work sometime.” I just smiled very sweetly and said, “I’m not at all sure our styles are compatible, but I appreciate the thought.”

And now I’m going to email the facilitator and ask him not to put me in this group again, the end. I seriously don’t understand this though. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean it’s up to you to rewrite it to how you think it ought to be written. One of the Two I Don’t Like had done track changes to his document, and it was absolutely bloody. I couldn’t believe the nerve.

OH! Ok, one good thing did happen. Before we got started, I was able to chat with a girl, Sarah, who is kind of my buddy there, and she’s very nice and funny and we like a lot of the same things. I was telling her I brew beer and she said, “Oh man, I’m never introducing you to my boyfriend because you’re smart and beautiful AND you brew beer!”

Beautiful! Smart! I feel like NEITHER of those things at the moment (or the last several moments/days/weeks)! And a woman in the TJ’s parking lot complimented my hair the other day — maybe I’m not looking quite as bad as I think I do. HMM. I just thought it was so kind of her to make such a nice compliment and it reminded me that I need to make more compliments too. It does tend to brighten a day.

Well anyway. The night wasn’t a total bust – I really do like hearing the authors’ stories about their stories, and I’ve come home and written some more myself. Lemonade from lemons, as they say.

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