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On critique groups – further thoughts

February 14, 2019

ODETTE ELLIOTT

I think Lorna’s checklist (On criticism: can we be kind, careful and constructive? Jan 31, 2019) is an excellent idea. I have been attending the Islington Writers Group for many years and have always found the feedback constructive and helpful. We look for something positive as well as something constructive. (Of course it is complicated when different people say entirely different things!)

I had an interesting experience lately. Unfortunately, at the moment I am not able to attend frequently but I did get a reading “slot” on my last visit. I presented Chapter 1, having completed the novel and thinking that I needed feedback especially on this start to the story. Criticism was quite hard-hitting. It was also almost unanimous, so I listened hard. I found this extremely helpful, but what to do if it is a long time before I can return? I know I benefited greatly from the criticism and planned to put things right. For me the whole situation was bearable because one kind person whispered to me that if I wanted to send a re-write to her, she’d be happy to read it.

Maybe the message I’m trying to get across is that even with guidelines and procedures in place and with a writer well-used to critique sessions, there is always room for kindness as this writing business leaves one quite exposed.

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