I get so discouraged by critiques. I know people are tying to help and invest time and energy, but sometimes (and I am noticing this happens quite a bit) I just feel like the piece isn't even worth going back to. I have tried to fix things following critique. Sometimes this works. Sometimes it creates such a mess. I have huge stacks of folders with all the comments I got of my stories during my MFA years. People were really thorough with their critiques, and, for all those stories, I took down detailed notes during the discussion part of the critique (workshop). But, honestly, I just feel so lost when I take in all this outside feedback. I was with a friend the other day, and we were talking about what we have on submission where. She asked about one of my stories that had been through workshop. I told her that since it didn't go over well and each revision seemed to make the story worse, I really wasn't doing anything with it. This friend has read all of the different drafts. In each one the story changed a lot. By the end it was really a different story. My friend said she thinks I was the closest with this piece in the first draft (which was a little more than a first draft but the first time I showed it to anyone) and to go back to that one and just clean it up. Supposedly, she said as much in her written feedback at the time it was workshopped, but I was so bogged down with pleasing the majority that I didn't even remember anyone liking it. I feel a little strange going back to the first version and working off that one. And there are several stories I could probably do that with. But it feels a little wrong to have gotten so much feedback and worked on so many drafts only to go back to what I started with. It's not that I didn't think the feedback was helpful, but I'm just not sure how much some of it really helped me. I respect all the writers who gave me feedback on this story and the others. Some of them I would say are exceptional writers with very clear talent. How can I just ignore what they said? How do you know when it's a good idea to make big changes and take suggestions? And, of course, how do you not let critique discourage you? The last question seems to be my biggest problem. No, my biggest problem is trying to publish, but I'm not even sending out the stories where I have gotten the most critiques and made the most changes because none of them ended up very good.