On "Constructive" Criticism
Liesl needed someone older and wiser, telling her what to do(ooo), and the bastards stomped her.
I’m sorry this happened, Troy. I’m inclined to agree with Leo. That type of thoughtless superiority, when inflicted on a child for crying out loud, speaks to some kind of deep, underlying pathology. It crushes me to think of how common this probably is, and of all the gifts and beauty that are denied shape and form in the world thanks to it… So grateful that you prevailed and that you share your voice today.
People can be really mean and I can imagine how damaging feedback like what you described is. I honestly feel it stems from a place of insecurity of their own writing and perhaps even jealousy at your talent. It is a form of bullying and abuse and is not really feedback at all. I am sorry this happened to you.
You're a brilliant author. Keep on shining!
I felt sucked out of my cream leather arm rest and slung into my wooden desk during the Chalfont St Peter secondary school creative writing elective. Over the years I have come to find that the most scathing and wantonly cruel criticisms have in fact absolutely nothing to do with you, it's all about themselves and their own self-hatred.
So glad you soldiered on and now share your writing with us all!
This was a great read Troy.
I second your notion of hereafter naming harsh and unfair critquers ‘Jodie’.
And I’m sorry to hear that those Jodies critiques put you off writing for such a long time. Jodies suck.
I have been going to a writers group every fortnight for about 6 months now and while there aren’t any serious Jodies there (thankfully) - I have found that most of the time the feedback people give says way more about the person giving the feedback than it does about my writing.
And so I try to grab onto any rare bits of actually helpful feedback and let all the other purely subjective personal preferences roll off my back.
Great read thanks.
“Ever since Harriet the Spy I had wanted to be a writer ... “ ❤️
Oh Troy, I'm sorry. This sounds awful.
It's sad to say, but I've heard similar stories from other high-profile writing courses.
I'm not sure that a 16/17 year old me would have been able to cope with that. I was shy and with little confidence and I imagine it would have served to just shut me down further, not nurture me, which is what such places and courses should be able to do. As others have said, it speaks to the state/issues of the Jodies themselves and not your writing.
I hope you know though that I am *glued* to every word you write. Your flair and prose are just a delight to read. I always look forward to seeing another post from you in my inbox, even if I can't get to it straight away.
By the way, is Watrspout available somewhere? Is it with an agent? I can't quite recall what I've read you say about it previously. (It's early; my memory is nothing without the delicious black caffeine in my veins...)
So sorry all that happened. I think if I'd gotten that advice at 16 I would have needed therapy, already being a total mess. Also I think critique groups are hit and miss. Maybe a writing partner would be a better way to work? And not to turn this into an ad, but my biz partner and I offer "manuscript critiques" which provide the high-level feedback it seems like you're looking for. And my partner loves fantasy. In any case, keep writing! It's part of who you are.
Opening a vein, even partly, leaves us raw. Such dismissive commentary, being unconstructive as it is, is more a reflection of the insensitivity and self-centeredness of its author than useful commentary.
Your post reminded me of a bad class/workshop experience years ago. I've always written some kind of "genre": a little SF/F, light horror, a touch of crime... I came to the first class full of enthusiasm, excited to share my stuff, eager to hear how I could do better. It might have been something in the fantastic realm, but honestly I've forgotten. Anyway, I was met with sneers and smirks: "We don't do "genre" here, only literary." I went to a couple of meetings, then said, f*** it, this isn't my vibe. Snooty Jodies, I guess!
Woodoo???! What next?