I had a friend who would always give me advice**.
When I'd say: Urgh, laundry is piling up at home. It's such a pain. I just can't keep up with it.
She'd tell me: What you need to do, is do a load every day. And put it away as soon as it's done. That's what I do.
Let's take a closer look.
What I really said: I have a tough time balancing what I want to do (write) with what I need to do (everything else). I wish there was a way to magically get all the work done so I can focus on my writing career. Unless I find a cleaning fairy, and trick her into being my personal servant, I guess I'm going to have to suck it up and do the house work. But only when I have to. :)
What she really said: I am better than you at life. I have my priorities straight, and get everything done. I won't let anyone see that sometimes I'm not in control of my life. I will reach down (from my pedestal) and try to lift you up to my standards.
Okay, now clearly, my friend probably didn't mean to say this. But by always telling me how I should do things, that was what she was communicating. That she was better at something than me. Not that I had my own way that should be respected. Not that I should be enjoyed in spite of (or because of--gasp--) all my laundry flaws. And, not that she was going to support me through my laundry crisis.
But that she was going to fix it.
This is not to say that I don't want expertise. I WANT expertise. If you know how to fix my computer, and can show me how, that's super awesome. In fact, if anyone out there knows how to fix a dryer which won't spin, PLEASE tell me!!
But don't fix me.
I have some wonderful crit partners. They are tough. Very tough on my WIPs. They tell me what works, what doesn't. They tell me which parts pulled them out from the book, made their thoughts wander. Sometimes they tell me I'm crazy.
But they don't try to fix the crazy.
They don't say: Your main character should do this... or, I would write it like this...
They do say: In chapter two, the goal of your main character isn't clear. That pulled me out of the scene.
It's a fine line, I know.
But the perspective of the first example is that they know what is best for my story, for ME, and they will pull me up and teach me what it is. Which is awfully presumptuous. And a little jerky.
The perspective of the second example is that they are there to support me to make my writing better. In fact, if you read between the lines, they are confident that I know the solution, and can make the scene better.
Which may be true, or might not be true. If it's not, then because of that awesome critique, I now know what the issue is. And if I have an issue in one work, it's probable that I have a similar issue in another work. And I need to figure out what the fix is, or if I need to do some craft related research, so I can learn how to fix it. But it's mine to fix.
Don't fix me.
Don't fix my writing.
I love this quote:
Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what's wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. ~ Neil GaimanBut, seriously, about the dryer--anyone?
How do you go about crits? How do you quiet your voice when it says to you, "if this was my work, I would write it this way..."?
What type of crit do you find most helpful? Have you had bad experiences with critiques? Good experiences? Do you let people know ahead of time what type of feedback works for you?
Update on ROW80--I lost sight of my goals for a few days. I could use the excuse of a laundry crisis, but I won't. I'm spending the day chatting with a crit partner, and getting back on track. How are you doing with your goals?
**I hope all of my friends aren't cringing over the time that they gave me laundry advice. I would love to hear how you get your laundry done. This particular friend just always told me how to be a better person, and is no longer my friend (not because of that trait alone, but I have to say that not being her friend makes my life much better). :) Also, if she were as cute as that kitten, I would have probably suffered through the advice!