A Post By Jonathan
As mentioned in my last post, Eeek! Put Some Pages Up For Criteek! (now a reoccurring segment here at ATB so look for the next entry super soon!), I am currently in the editing phase of the novel writing process. Having never edited a book before, I've been seeking input from pretty much anyone I can find. Including you, dear reader.
Recently, I had the fortunate opportunity to have an author who has published several books through Random House (or the "Big House" as she calls it) review my first 25 pages. She said she does it sometimes, as a way of giving back. I was extremely grateful, but talk about eeek! The critque (or is that criteek?) was amazing, by far the most thorough I've ever received. But it was something she said during the process that really struck me. Now this is kind of controversial, so don't shoot the messenger... *he says while ducking*
She said that she wasn't a fan of most critique groups, that they are essentially full of amateurs trying to teach other amateurs how to write, and that they can often do more harm than good. She said that it took her until about her fourth book, only after working with some of the best editors in the world three times before, to even begin to feel comfortable passing that knowledge along. She said that too often new writers assume that every other writer out there knows better than they do, and they'll blindly listen to anything they say, right or wrong, even when most of these people have never been published themselves.
Now I am not saying I agree with her. I know you don't need to be traditionally published to know how to give a proper critique or edit, but it definitely opened my eyes to be more selective when seeking writing advice. She just about keeled over when I told her that I used to just randomly post my work in forums on tons of different websites, taking to heart pretty much anything anyone had to say about my writing. In contrast, she learned to write before the existence of the internet. To hone her craft, she would just go to the library and mimic the books she read. Regardless of her thoughts on critique groups, that's damn good advice.
So what do you think, fellow writers? Should we leave critiquing up to the professionals? Should we all write in a cocoon, far away from the internet, and hire professional editors when we're finally ready to come out of hiding? Would love to hear your thoughts!