Worst Critique Session Ever
So my critique group was three members strong. (Okay, three geeks strong). And we decided to invite a fourth, because for some reason, a foursome just seemed so… right. So square. So even.
We invited Bill. Then, at the first meeting of that perfectly round number, Bill sits down at the table and proceeds to critique my book. And by “critique”, I mean “yell at Brodi for twenty minutes straight about how much he absolutely HATES the first two chapters of her book.”
Below is a transcription of the conversation. (At least, how I remember it, through the filter of self-loathing lenses).
Bill: “I have to start with Brodi, because [pointing at pages] what is this crap? I read your stuff in class, and at the time you seemed capable of putting a sentence together, but this? Were you dropped on your head since I last saw you? It can’t be the same book, because this belongs in the stomach of an amoeba.”
Brodi: “What’s an amoeba?”
Bill: “A one-celled parasite.”
Brodi: “How would it even fit in his stomach?”
Bill: “It doesn’t matter. Please tell me you ate the alphabet, and then accidentally puked on these pages.”
Eden (faithful sister-in-law): “It’s not that bad, Bill. Let’s move on to another book.”
Bill: “I can’t. I mean, I physically can’t, because Brodi’s book is pure poison, and it has infected my brain, and now I must go detox for a month, including colonic enemas, just to get the taste out of my mouth.”
Brodi: “I don’t think enemas will help the taste in your mouth.”
Bill: “See? Even the words you speak sound like gibberish.”
Joe (fourth member of critique group): “Come on, Bill. I’ve read Brodi’s book, and I can definitely affirm it’s written in English. Slang, mostly, but English nonetheless.”
Brodi: “Thanks a lot, Joe.”
Joe: “No problem. Now let’s go hit a medieval festival.”
Bill: “I will not be returning to this critique group. You have defiled my soul with these monstrosities you have the nerve to call words. I will now go and finish my own book, and I will write it entirely in French prose, because you have decimated the English language for me. Au revoir, suckers.”
No, seriously, that is how I remember it. Maybe I took a few liberties on the dialogue, but what can you expect from a writer who spews forth poison?
NOW FOR THE ABSOLUTE WORST PART: After cursing him for an entire three month period, I actually followed his advice about the first two chapters in my book! And it made it a stronger book! Curses Bill! (shaking of fists toward the heavens.)
Critique groups are always excruciating, but remember this: Sometimes even tacky, mean, smug bullies can have a good suggestion. Glean what you can, discard the rest! You can always blog about it later for medicinal purposes.
Bill, thank you for the suggestion, and you know I love you. If you have to ask, “Am I Bill?” then no, you are not Bill. Bill knows who he is, and I can guarantee he won’t be reading this blog, since it is written in the language of gobbledygook. Oh, and his name really is Bill.
Anyone else want to share their critique nightmares? About anything? I once had a makeup sales person tell me, “You look so much thinner in person… [wait for it]… Oh! I mean to say, you look fatter on television.”
Thank you for clearing that up. I’ll take one cellulite cream for my thigh divots.