Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Seven Stages of (Critique) Grief

First of all, I’d like to say how wonderful the feedback was from the people who read my books. It’s amazingly helpful. None of this refers to you in any way. Promise!

But what I’ve noticed upon receiving a critique is that one (because I’m not willing to admit that it’s actually me) goes through several stages. Not unlike grieving. So here it is, the seven stages of critique grief:

1. Denial—In this stage, you read the critique and know that obviously, they didn’t get what you were going for. How dare they doubt you going on for three pages about what was going on in this minor character’s life while he waved at the main character’s girlfriend. Plus, your sentences, like, totally make sense. Or whatever. You’re a great writer. They just don’t understand you. Nor do these writers have any idea what real writing is even if they’ve been at this longer than you’ve been alive. Fools!
2. Anger—Your book is great! It’s all great! Your book is a national treasure. Once the offers start pouring in, you’ll wave them in your so-called critique partners’ faces. And anyone who can’t write a perfect novel in the first draft should be launched into the sun. What kind of idiot doesn’t know they were tense jumping or misappropriating words?
3. Fear—Oh no. What if you really didn’t write a good novel? What if you screwed up? What if all those jumps through time don’t make sense? What if you really are POV-hopping? What if all your delightful, quirky characters really don’t add anything? No! It can’t be! The ellipses are beautiful! The repetition is wonderful! Semi-colons! Nooooo!
4. Bargaining—It won’t matter. So what if you have a few mistakes? An agent would understand. If you can just convince one to read the whole story, they’re bound to love the potential. If you can get one to request a partial, he or she will surely love it as much as you do. Please. Even if there are thousands of other stories out there with authors willing to spend months or even years pouring over every single word until it snap, crackle, pops…if you’re just given a chance…
5. Guilt—Well, you’re useless. All those people who spend all that time working on their novels…no wonder you can’t catch any interest. It’s all your fault. You wouldn’t listen when people made suggestions because you thought they just didn’t get it. If only you tried harder to clean up those rambling sentences, those strange words that stomp through your novels, and the tangents that go nowhere, like the flashback to the hero’s birth even though it’s a first person story, even if it adds so much tension. Maybe then it would be readable.
6. Depression—Nothing matters. The book is hopeless. All those ideas, even the good ones, are meaningless because you have no talent. It just isn’t worth the effort to make it readable. Sure, you could fix all those problems the critiques pointed out, but there were so many! And if you made them the first time, what’s to say you won’t just make them again? Are you just supposed to keep working on it and expect it all to be sunshine and roses?
7. Acceptance—Shouldyou keep working on it? You thought it was utter crap, and maybe it is, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be made into notcrap. Yeah, it’s a lot of work. But you already put a lot into it. Don’t you want something to be proud of? And you were smart enough not to send of those letters comparing your critique partners to zombies who only wanted to eat the brains that is your novel, so maybe you could ask them to look through your rewrites and make sure you’re on the right track and not making the same mistake. It almost seems possible.


  1. Sigh... me, too. :( It's my turn for workshop in class on Monday and I'm nervous.

  2. Bookmarking this for when I get my critiqued pages back. *bites nails*

  3. Hahaha this is so funny because it's so true! lol

  4. I'm in the depression stage now, LOL!

    This post is made of truth.

  5. Very well said!

    And since you brought it up, if we're launching anything into the sun, how about we start with the cast of Dancing with the Stars?

  6. So funny. I usually skip to my book sucks.


Please validate me.