Is honesty always the best? Should you always tell the truth? If you belong to a critiquing group, how truthful should you be? I have covered this subject once before in a different way, but I think it needs to be covered again.
Truth can hurt, both to one receiving AND to the giver. It takes courage to say what you feel. My comic hero was always Robin Williams. I admired the speed of his wit, the number of his voices, and his ability to make people laugh at a moment’s notice. I too love to make people smile and laugh. It makes me feel just as good as they do after so many years of feeling bad about myself. That is why I can relate to the dark side of Robin’s life. The thing is, I believe, the dark side, to some degree made him the genius he became. I also believe he refused to take medication for fear of losing that edge of genius.
I’ve always tried to be honest to people, to keep my integrity as a person. I lost it for a few years when my pain and my arrogance got the better of me and I self-destructed in the early 90’s. Other than those times, if someone would come to me and asked for my opinion I would smile and say, “Are you sure you want to hear it? If you ask for it, I will give it you. I will not sugarcoat it. I will just tell you what I think. Period.”
Some could take it and some couldn’t. I let them make the decision whether to accept it or not. A critiquing group is different. You have to be more diplomatic. I have in my past used my humor as a tool in my critiquing. I can be generally more harsh with humor and it wouldn’t sting so bad.
A couple weeks ago, I guess I didn’t do so well. I broke my own rules. I didn’t use humor. I spoke by phone to the leader the day before the meeting as we sometimes do and we discussed the pieces we were going to go over. One was a new person. As it turned out, I didn’t treat her well at all that night, but I did EXACTLY what I said I was going to do and he didn’t. He didn’t have kind things to say over the phone but did not say so that night. Why? Probably because she is new. Was I too harsh? Yes and I apologized the next day after I was scolded by him.
As I look back at it now, I became too aggressive that night for the wrong reason. I wasn’t in the best of moods that night to begin with. Her piece also struck me as negative for political reasons. She is writing in YA at the end of the world (again). Everyone seems to be doing that, which rubs me the wrong way to begin with. No one ever writes in the future with us ALL actually surviving. Heaven forbid!!! I said that night the form of the genre she writes is actually getting to be cliché. You can actually write in the future a different way and have tension and conflict. Oops. I should also mention that before I began my critique with her, I warned her I was about to be harsh.
In my humble opinion, the only part of the entire critique that was over the top was my statement about the genre being cliché. The rest of my critique was on the money and just fine. I did not treat her any differently than I do with anyone else. It doesn’t matter though because the damage had already been done as far as some were concerned.
So, it is better to be honest or not? I was honest but too honest. I was honest but not correct. I used personal feelings to make a personal statement that made the initial critique go off the rails. Everything else I said after that, whether it was correct or not, lost its creditability. I apologized the next day, but so what? I am who I am. I say what I think. I give my opinion. Some have opinions and don’t give them and are thought of as Gods. Go figure.
So it's really the delivery that is the issue and not exactly what was said or how you honestly felt. My verbal delivery in critiquing can have the opposite effect where I don't clearly express what I am wanting to relay. I become a softy. That's not effective either. Luckily, I always know that my written critiques will power up the amp wherever needed. Maybe too much amp?ReplyDelete
Heather recently told me that, had I not explained my critiquing of her Clary of Cape May novel just prior to her reading the critiques, she could have easily come to the conclusion that I did not like the story at all!
I need to learn how to round out the sharp edges without losing the point, because I truly did enjoy her new novel. In fact, I critiqued 'Clary' as if it were my own.
So, yeah. Delivery is the issue; not the honesty in the critique. Good thing Heather knows how my brain works!
Yes, delivery is key. Being positive and challenging shouldn't be exclusive, but sometimes it's tricky. I need to work on this as well.ReplyDelete