Saturday, May 17, 2008

Yammering About Writer's Groups

After Lucky Labs a few of us discussed how writer's groups are not for everyone. We came up with two categories of people for whom writer's groups are bad. One is the sort of writer whose soul is sucked out by critiques. These writers come out of critiques wanting to set fire to their story and never speak of it again or, worse, with a writer's block that even Hercules couldn't lift. If a writer's group meeting doesn't make you want to dash home and write lots, it's not doing you any good. The other kind of writer is one who is uncertain about the hearts of his/her stories. If the writer is willing to make any kind of modification suggested, or all of them at once, because they have no commitment or passion or inspiration they're willing to trust, a writer's group will destroy the integrity of their voice. The fiction they produce may be serviceable, and readable, but it will be missing that spark that makes editors want to buy a story at best, and turn to ashes at worst. Ashes are really bad. Well, except when C.S. writes about them.

Anyway, the plight of the uncertain author seems like a conundrum. If you go to a critique group for expert, or at least respectable, opinions, shouldn't you listen to them? Of course, but you have to own the story, love it, believe in it. Sometimes a story you love isn't salvageable and you need to let it go, but you have to realize that, believe it, and trust that. Never take apart a story based on someone else's say-so if you're not absolutely sure they're right, even if they're All That. By absolutely sure, I mean you have an aha moment, a realization, a heart-felt feeling of oops when you see your story in a new light. You're not absolutely sure if your gut says, "Gee, Jim said he wouldn't wipe his ass with it, so I guess it's no good," or even, "Everyone had such valid things to say about the weaknesses of the story, it must not be worth fixing." You wrote the story for a reason. It's not like marriage at all, except in this: If you loved the story enough to write it, do what you can to keep that story alive. If it's time for divorce, so be it, but make sure you believe that in your heart, not because your mother told you he's no good for you.

1 comment:

C.S. said...

"Ashes are really bad. Well, except when C.S. writes about them."

HA! *chuckle, chuckle*