I read a blog recently discussing Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ and was reminded of Stephen’s views on writing groups.
‘And what about those critiques, by the way? How valuable are they? Not very, in my experience, sorry. A lot of them are maddeningly vague. ‘I love the feeling of Peter’s story’, someone may say. ‘It had…something a sense of I don’t know…there’s a loving kind of you know…I can’t exactly describe it.’ Other writing-seminar gemmies include: ‘I felt like the tone thing was just kind of you know; the character of Polly seemed pretty much stereotypical; I loved the imagery because I could see what he was talking about more or less perfectly’. And instead of pelting these idiots with their own freshly toasted marshmallows, everyone else sitting around the fire is often nodding and smiling and looking solemnly thoughtful. In too many cases the teachers and writers in residence are nodding, smiling, and looking solemnly thoughful right along with them. It seems to occur to few of the attendees that if you have a feeling you just can’t describe, you might just be, I don’t know, kind of like, my sense of it is, maybe in the wrong fucking class.’
Hilarious but also very true. Vague feedback doesn’t help anyone!
from A Blog of One’s Own.