1. Mikewritesfic
    Offline

    Mikewritesfic Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2010
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Princeton, NJ

    Asked To Leave A Writing Group Because My Writing Is "Too Good." Is This Common?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Mikewritesfic, Jan 14, 2013.

    I'm not sure where to post this thread, so if it's in the wrong place, I apologize in advance.

    Back in August I found out about a writing group that meets at a nearby Barnes and Noble. I decided to attend. So on the designated evening, I made copies of a story I had been working on and went over to B&N. I was anxious to meet writers from the area, socialize, exchange advice and tips, etc. There were twelve other people in the group. Their ages varied, as did their professions, appearances, etc. I introduced myself and we sat down to share our work. When it was my turn I handed out copies of my story and read it aloud. In a nutshell, it was an espionage story set during the Cold War. After I was finished reading there was silence. No comments, no critiques, nothing. After a few minutes the organizer of the group spoke up. In short he told me I was a bad fit for the group. My writing was "too good" and there was nothing the group could contribute to help make me a more capable writer. My initial response was, "WTF?"

    I've never experienced anything like that in my life. I thought the whole point of a writing group was for the members to support each other and improve our skills. Has anyone else here ever been excluded from a writing group because your writing was deemed "too good" or "different" or "not good enough?"
     
  2. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    Finding the right writing group is like finding the right betas - you have to hunt around a bit to find the right fit. One might be too good for one group, not yet good enough for the next. The group may be more interested in literary fiction than genre fiction, or vice versa. Some are filled with writers who just enjoy writing, others with people heading for possible publication.
     
  3. Drusy
    Offline

    Drusy Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2013
    Messages:
    119
    Likes Received:
    5
    How good your work was, and subsequently, their inability to help you improve is both subjective and reasonable. Their own ability and skills at critique might not be as advanced as your own. That they admitted it actually saves you from wasting time. Don't get fashed about it - try to find a more advanced group or mentor. Most of us that write a great deal have been in this boat to some degree, I believe, whether at school, home or out in the community. Maybe you should try a local university.
     
  4. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,352
    Likes Received:
    2,895
    Location:
    Boston
    It's certainly odd. I've never heard of anything like this happening to anyone, and it certainly hasn't happened to me. The fact that they had nothing at all to say about your piece probably means they don't read or write a lot. Perhaps they are just casual writers who get together once in a while to talk about whatever they wrote. I suppose you should just take the compliment at face value and find another group.
     
  5. Mikewritesfic
    Offline

    Mikewritesfic Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2010
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Princeton, NJ
    That's what I did. :)

     
  6. Mikewritesfic
    Offline

    Mikewritesfic Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2010
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Princeton, NJ
    There are actually quite a few writing groups in the area. I'm a grad student at the local university and will look around to see if there are any available on campus. As Shadowwalker said, sometimes it takes a while to find a group you fit in with.

     
  7. Trilby
    Offline

    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,098
    Likes Received:
    69
    Location:
    NE England
    It sounds as if they have been intimidated by your ability, but instead of welcoming you and trying to learn from you, they have chased you because of their own short-sightedness - Their loss; you are better off without them.

    Find a less childish group and move on. Good luck.
     
  8. idle
    Offline

    idle Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2012
    Messages:
    333
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    one of the hearts of Europe
    I think (from my experience, from what I do myself) that when you're giving feedback on a story, you adjust your level of critique accordingly. If the story is rather bad, you point out the most glaring errors but don't nitpick on subtle word choice. It doesn't help to overwhelm the author with so many comments that he/she doesn't know which ones are most important. But if you read a well-written story, you might turn your thoughts to details.

    If the people in the writing group expected something on one level and received a better one, maybe as a result they really missed anything worth mentioning. It doesn't necessarily mean that they wouldn't be able to give you more feedback in a different situation.

    But the ability is just one part of the problem. If you are on a different level, then they would have to adjust for you every time. And discuss with you problems they ignore in most other stories in the group. I can imagine it could be discouraging.
     
  9. mbear
    Offline

    mbear Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2013
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    0
    That is crazy and the group must have no desire to become better themselves. If I belonged to a group and a person showed up to be a part of it with an amazing skill set, then I would be begging the person to stay and help me with my stuff. You are better off without a group like that. I agree that you should find a group that is a good fit.
     
  10. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Those people sound like they're off their rockers and likely would have been useless to you, anyway. No one's work is "too good." Even the most respected of the classics and the most award-winning authors are frequently torn to shreds or at the very least, people complain about some aspect of the writing or the story. If every single person loved the story, and thought it was absolutely perfect, at the very least, they should be able to articulate what they liked about it, or asked questions about maybe what might happen next or if you'd written about the characters in other stories or your inspiration -- something.

    I've found that when people in a critique group like something, they want to discuss it even more than if they find it, uh, in need of significant work. If they find someone too good, they should want to learn from him, not send him away.

    It's their loss. This was probably some kind of clique group that was meeting more for socialization purposes, and for whatever reason, they sensed that you somehow didn't fit in with them. On to the next group. I wonder if any of the folks who work there might have any insight? There very well could be more than one writing group that meets at the B&N, and maybe some of the workers might know something about the 'personalities' of the groups or could suggest others.
     
  11. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    How strange, but if it's really the truth that your writing is too good, then it was for the best anyway. While they could still critique as readers, their feedback would not be as helpful compared to someone closer to your writing level, and you as the author would not trust their feedback half as much compared to the feedback of someone whose writing you respected/admired.

    In any case, weird but well, it's still a compliment so I'd take it and run :D
     
  12. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    It sounds like the employer excuse, "You're overqualified." It's a load of bull flop that really means "We aren't telling you why."
     
  13. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    instead of trying to get into a writing group, why don't you start submitting your work and see if it's not 'too good' to be accepted for publication? ;)
     
  14. Mikewritesfic
    Offline

    Mikewritesfic Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2010
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Princeton, NJ
    I really should. Maybe a few rejection letters will convince the folks in that writing group that they were wrong. :)

     
  15. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    or convince you that they were right!
     
  16. Show
    Offline

    Show Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    1,495
    Likes Received:
    30
    If they say you're too good for them, then you're probably too good for them. haha No use forcing your way into a writing group that treats people like that.
     
  17. Mikewritesfic
    Offline

    Mikewritesfic Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2010
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Princeton, NJ
    Rejections are part of the territory. Every writer has to deal with them, good or bad.

     

Share This Page