I go to a monthly writing group and they can be a bunch of assholes sometimes, but one thing I realised today is that when they critique my work, it makes me a better writer. Some of them get stuck into you when you read something and it can bring you down, but what they are doing is making me work harder to tighten up my poetry and prose. I think twice now about loose words and sloppy grammar. I still stuff up but at least I am trying harder.
I have a routine, the groups meet on a saturday. I go to the class, yell and argue with them, then I go to the University library and sit among the books for an hour and then I go for a swim. It is my favorite day of the month.
One thing however I have noticed. Some of the people in the group are sensitive and when I criticise their work they take it as a personal attack and then they don’t like me anymore. It’s hard but they don’t realise I am trying to help them become better writers. If I really don’t like a piece of work, I don’t say anything and even if they don’t understand, me not saying anything is the worse thing I can do. It means take the work away from me.
I have been in other groups where everyone is nice and only compliments are allowed. I hated those groups, I want robust opinions and arguments, I want passion and most of all I want people who treat literature and writing as the most important things in the world. Although this group has flaws like any other, it is a good group.