02 May 2008

.....and the other shoe falls

As much as I love Agent Query Connect, it is not without its pitfalls. The critique group I belonged to has broken up, and though a few of us from the group have created a new one, we've lost one of the members I respected most. The specifics are unclear and upsetting, but I'm seriously disappointed in.... well, in a lot of things.

Let me speak for myself.

As a writer, the things I write are very personal to me. I put a lot of myself into every story I write. When I receive criticism regarding my writing (even the most well-intentioned and accurate criticism), it's very easy to take it all personally. It's easy to look for the personal faults or flaws in the person doing the critiquing. It's easy to go on the attack.

What's difficult is sorting through the words for the facts. For the valid points. What's hard is acknowledging that what I've written is by no means perfect. Realizing that someone else's criticism is not a reflection on my character as a human being, only a reflection of their opinion about what I've written. And though it should be easy, the hardest part can be realizing that even the criticism that seems unfair or harsh is mine to take or to leave, to do with what I will; I don't have to let it get to me.

I believe that under no circumstances is it acceptable to attack a person's viewpoints or ideas, beliefs, profession, integrity, etc. because I don't like the criticism they've offered me in a constructive setting. It is certainly never acceptable to attack a person publicly, by name, on a personal level, after that person has tried to diffuse the situation. EVEN IF I feel my points are valid and justified. EVEN IF I feel my sources are trustworthy. EVEN IF I feel the personal attack is somehow relevant to the original issue - a critique of my writing that I didn't like.

It's just not acceptable. It's unfortunate. It's childish. It doesn't solve anybody's problems. As a writer who seeks always to be truthful, fair, original, and always pushing the boundaries of my knowledge, I hold myself to a higher standard than that. I wish others would do the same.

I've not done any of the things I stated above, nor do I know for sure that anyone has. Like I said, the specifics are unclear and upsetting. I suspect it has much to do with fragile egoes and petty politics. But I hope we've all learned our lesson.

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