First post in like 2 months. Why? As I said in the “about me,” I’m not a fan of blogging. It’s basically “writing about writing.” Why spend time doing that when I could just write? Why am I doing it now? Probably because as a worthless narcissist I like to hear myself talk / type.
Actually I’m posting about my superawesome writing critique group, which I joined a couple months ago. We bring a chunk of writing each Tuesday and share it with the rest of the group, and while it’s sort of the equivalent of “speed dating a novel one chapter at a time,” I’ve managed to get a LOT out of it. Here’s the topic of my post : criticism.
I walk in there each week eager to take the wrecking ball to the crotch. That’s right, I want them to demolish my stuff. I’ve gone through and edited the damn thing 4-5 times now, and while *I* think it’s excellent, sometimes they’re like “this sucks Ben.” The best part is that when I listen to their explanations, I find out THEY’RE FUCKING RIGHT.
Sections that I thought were amazing turn out to be complete and utter crap. Sections I think are “too weird” leave people gasping for air and wanting more. I love this shit. Sure, it’s nice to hear “this is good,” but it’s better to hear “this needs work, you could fix it by ___” and if you really listen then your eyes go wide with the “HOLY SHIT THAT WILL MAKE THIS PART INCREDIBLE.” Then I drive home, sometimes with those eyebrows still raised, and punch the keys like a heavyweight boxer. Or really it’s like a super lightweight boxer trying to emulate a heavyweight boxer, but you get the idea.
And yeah there are times when I have to take the criticism with a grain of salt. Sometimes I listen to their critiques and think “nope, that part needs to stay,” but I do think about it instead of just rolling around in my own “I’m awesome, lol.” Some folks are content to bring their stuff, get critiqued, and discount everything because they like rolling around in their own “I’m awesome, lol,” but fuck them.
Sure, trust yourself, write to please yourself, write the story you want to write, write in your voice, I’ve heard it all, and it’s all true, but taken to an extreme it’s the writer’s version of solipsism, which is ultimately useless and probably sucks anyways. Sure, it’s not great for your ego when you hear that this thing you’ve slaved over and poured your soul into actually isn’t that great, but if you’re creating art and you’re serious about being good, you need to know what you’re doing badly.
Tonight I get to walk in there and let them use my artistic genitals as a punching bag, and I love it, because it’ll help me refine my craft until I have cast-iron balls.
Those are probably images you could’ve done without, but as I said, my writing sucks. You were warned.