Friday, October 14, 2011

Is it so Hard to be Helpful?

I'm having one of the days where I just want to strangle someone. It's not so much that anything is going wrong exactly, it's just that I'm getting beyond irritated with other people's inability to see past themselves and their own beliefs. I'm seeking help for my writing, yes, that's true, but that doesn't give you the right to criticize what you haven't even read. How could you know that my stuff isn't ready for an agent, have you read it? Last I checked, you hadn't. 


I need to take a deep breath...hold on...

I am a pretty positive person. I work with teenagers and I believe in instilling hopes and dreams and having faith in a person and their ability to achieve something great. Don't get me wrong, I don't believe in giving them delusions of grandeur, but I believe in encouragement and self confidence.  

Maybe I'm just feeling defensive.

Recently someone told me that people should be able to give criticism in a positive way and actually want to help. Actually, it was a fellow winterguard coach talking about accepting help from someone you know is so much better than you. There shouldn't be the words "never" or "can't" involved. And I feel like in this writing world I'm getting a lot of that, from people who have never met me, never read anything I've written. It's just you're not ready, you can't do this, don't do that. But when am I actually going to get something that's helpful? I realize that when I post my query, I'm asking for your help, but if you're not actually going to help, why bother responding? I want concrete advice, not just a wishy-washy insult to my writing style (which btw, you've never read.) Months ago when I posted my first query I got SO MUCH helpful advice. Now it seems like I can't get anything close to that.

What I really think I want is myself, in the form of someone else. Someone who can encourage as well as give solid advice. I want someone who will not automatically tell me that my stuff isn't ready for an agent, but actually tell me how I can improve so that it will be ready. Stop with the assumptions, cut the crap. I've had enough.

I need a writing circle, some local people that are willing to work together. But since I live in Michigan, which is apparently a lame state, there doesn't seem to be any of those around here. I just want some positivity for once! I'm sick of being so proud of something I've accomplished only to have someone who's never read it tell me it's crap.

I'm not an idiot. I do realize that a manuscript isn't ready for agents a week after it's finished. I knew this when I was ten. But thanks for telling me again and again and again, just in case I didn't know. Maybe next time you could not waste your time and tell me how to make my query better.


I feel better now.

Happy writing friends. You are all amazing and I know you can accomplish great things. Don't let other people tell you that you can't, because you can.

All the best,


  1. I KNOW you are a TALENTED writer. I've read your excerpt before. So take heart. Queries are a different ball game (I can't write a cohesive query myself. oh well. ;( ) But I do understand what you're saying here. A critique should not be personal or judgmental, but for others, it is easy to fall into those categories and they end up insulting the person they're supposedly trying to help.

    I don't have a local writer's group (b/c I'm a hermit, hahaha!) but I've found amazing love and support from my circle of friends online. *cough goat posse cough*

    It's only a matter of finding people you can work with and be comfortable with. Good luck, and just ignore their jibes or whatever. Like you said, they haven't even read your ms, so who are they to judge whether it's ready or not?

    <3 <3

  2. If I lived in Michigan, I would be your writing buddy. But I've lived in a lame city in the middle of a desert for the last year. I feel your pain.

  3. Hang in there, Kacey! Easier said than done, but try not to take it personally- I've been telling myself that for the past two hours since I received my first round of criticism/rejections from editors. I'm having one of those days too... I wish the goat posse lived in the same state!

  4. Thanks so much for the support guys! I know I have great friends that give amazing advice. Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong place for what I need. :) I'm having a super awful day so I think this just solidified it even more. I know that I'm not an awful writer, I just need to stop listening to other people who clearly do not know how to be helpful and supportive to others.

  5. A helpful critique partner or group is lovely the end you either believe in your writing or you don't. Don't let anyone sway you from your goal when the work gets to the point where you DO believe in it fully. I'll bet a few of our greatest writers in history never bothered to have a "crit group." They wrote, and they trusted their intuition.