writing group

image by Eleanor Rudge

image by Eleanor Rudge

Hi guys—

I didn’t have time to read the new applicant’s submission word-for-word, but I don’t think I have good feedback for his piece. I agree that his background sounds exciting and interesting, but his writing is not something I’d ever choose to read.

Of course, if you disagree, I’ll defer to the group.

Anna

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Hi all—

What I mean is that after I read his piece, I could think of nothing constructive to say. The feedback it elicits from me would probably not be helpful to him. What I looked for when I was shopping for a writing group was…

  1. others’ writing I feel I can be helpful with, and
  2. comments from others that are helpful and give me a clear idea of what I should do to improve my writing.

I assume he’s looking for the same thing, and I’m saying up front that I don’t think I can provide that to him. It seemed like he didn’t even bother to read the writing you sent him. But if you both have good feelings about his one, I’m willing to give it a try.

Anna

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Hi again—

So by “I don’t think I can provide that to him,” I mean that I can’t think of anything constructive to say about his writing. By “constructive,” I mean good or helpful. I’m trying to tell you I have nothing good to say about his writing. Sorry if that was unclear. I really hope you guys don’t want him in the group.

anna

______________________________________________________________________________

Hi,

So maybe I chose my words too carefully. The irony is not lost on me here—as writers, we should try be vivid and incisive with our words, right? Perhaps I was trying to be subtle; show don’t tell, less is more, blabbity blah. Maybe I do tend to pencil-trace around what I’m trying to say rather than filling it in with a bright red sharpie. This must be my blind spot, since just now I re-read my previous emails and I’m jarred at my harshness. (“His writing is not something I’d ever choose to read,” really? Ouch!)

But I want to grow as a writer so I really must listen to your feedback, right? I mean, that’s the whole point of a writing group. So I’m going to remember this the next time I sit down to write.

Thanks for the feedback,

A

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Okay, it’s not true that I didn’t have time to read it, it’s just that every sentence overwhelmed me with queasy embarrassment and I just couldn’t go on. I read through my fingers because I was covering my face with my hands. He writes as though he were standing on a stage with a thesaurus in one hand and his dick in the other, like he jerked something into a paper towel and then shook my hand without looking me in the eyes. It’s a flexing, flabby catwalk and I’ve already seen enough to last me a lifetime. If you want him in this group, then I’ll probably have to drop out because I won’t be able to respect your opinion anymore.

Do you understand what I’m trying to say now? Is that any better?

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About Anna Fonté

Girl in the Hat, aka Anna Fonté, is an author who writes about invisibility, outsider status, everyday monsters, and her attempts to befriend the neighborhood crows. The things she writes want you to look at them.

28 comments

  1. aqilaqamar

    wow, that escalated quickly O_O

  2. gailytr

    you are so funny

  3. That was great. There’s always one in the group who thinks she’s bloody god’s gift to the literary world…

  4. “He writes as though he were standing on a stage with a thesaurus in one hand and his dick in the other, like he jerked something into a paper towel and then shook my hand without looking me in the eyes.”

    OMG, I’m dying. So funny, you.

  5. Hilarious. I love it!I love this bright, red sharpie speak.

  6. Very happy to read you, always. xo

  7. Goodness. I have never joined a writing group, but occasionally I am asked to edit something for someone “as a favor.” I do not offer my writing and editing skills for hire because I truthfully feel I am not that accomplished, but then I get someone’s writing to edit and have the experience you describe above. It makes me wonder…

  8. I enjoyed that – thanks for writing it. What a tangled web we weave when we try not to offend people in emails!

    While I’m here – thought you might like another crow family excursion. There’s a Cossack song called ‘Black Raven’ (Чёрный ворон) that arrived in my inbox from Poland. Thought of you. It’s a sad, after-the-battle song. A wounded soldier singing to the ravens that are circling the field (there’s a translation of the lyrics here: http://bit.ly/1NqfFDg) Two versions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngD1LxdvXds and another with added intriguing facial hair art, moving wall panels and Russian men taking themselves very, very seriously : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hr0WwY5Bulw

    Hope you enjoy them
    Best wishes
    Elaine

  9. SO – – – you ladies have a problem with paper towels? I bet you all read Bukowski and didn’t have any trouble with his word pictures. The poor fellow that you are ‘picking’ on – – – no – – – insufficient word – – – ‘destroying’ probably had a bluebird in his heart until he found out he couldn’t write to save his untalented little ass. Oh well, it is always good to be truthful; especially in a critique.
    By the way Anna, did the mean girls kick you out of the group?
    PS: Excellent write.

    • Don’t let the bluebird out, whatever you do. She’ll rip someone’s head off. She’ll bite you and smack you around until you understand how she feels, until you cry like a baby and beg to be held.

      My new writing group (one woman, one man) is def. working for me so far. Fingers crossed.

      Thanks for reading, Wally! xoox

  10. Oh, my fucking little one-foot tall Jesus, Anna! Sometimes I just like your writing, and other times you knock it out of the park. This one was a walk-off grand slam. (These baseball references doing anything for you?)

    • Baseball is fine, but that little Jesus really caught my eye. WTH? (I may have to use that one, Kevin. Instead of “fuck!” I’ll yell, “footlong Jesus!”) xoox

      • I loved Will Ferrell in SNL, but his movies don’t do a lot for me, but in “Talledega Nights,” during the table prayer, he kept going on and on about praying to “little baby Jesus,” as only WF can do. “Christ in a miniskirt” is a good one also, but I have to admit to having read a Nora Roberts romantic mystery to cite that one. Not sure if it’s a “southernism” or what, but i kinda like it. Not sure if I could pull it off though. Probably be better than the blasphemous, physically impossible swear word chains that I come up with.

        • (Or maybe it was Tami Hoag who used the “miniskirt” epithet–like Nora Roberts, someone that is okay to read if you’re stuck in a truck stop in a blizzard, but I wouldn’t read 20 books by either of ’em.) (Enough yappin’ from me for this comment section.)

  11. Ha. If we all just critiqued honestly, this is what it would look like. I would love feedback like this just to put me out of my freaking misery! People are too damned nice half the time, which never helps. Thanks for the giggle!

  12. OMG! I agree with Averil above. This is priceless. Writing groups are tough to find. I’ve had the same experience as glasgowdragonfly.

  13. Todd

    WTF!
    I’m not in your fancy scribbler’s group.
    And that was a repair manual, and dull pencil,
    Muchas F’n Gracias!

  14. Please check my blog
    odetofreeliving.wordpress.com

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