1. thegearheart
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    thegearheart Member

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    What is Sacred?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by thegearheart, Apr 14, 2009.

    (This is not about this forum, but rather a local writing group.)

    What does it mean to be sacred? Does it mean that something is automatically deserving of respect, regardless of conditions? Does it mean that something should never be altered? Obviously, that which is sacred should be venerated.

    For that matter, what does it mean to venerate something? What, specifically does that mean that you do?

    One of the most common phenomena that I have noticed in the creative world is that aspiring creatives of all kinds hold accomplished artists to be sacred. It seems as though many of them hang off of every word, granting ultimate authority to those artists who are willing judge their works. When a published writer says something about an aspiring writer's work, is that aspiring writer likely to make those changes? Absolutely.

    I'm frustrated with the profusion of "cred," and I don't like the fact that people sometimes weigh the merits of a critique on the merits of the critic. When someone critiques your work, the first question you should ask yourself is this: "Do I agree?" If you don't agree, don't let that person's authority sway you.

    The opposite should also be true. I've been known to take the critical advice of people that I outright despise. Why? Because if I agree with them, I agree with them.

    I don't know. Maybe I'm just venting. Am I out of line here?
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if it bothers you, then ignore it and make your own decisions about people/writers/whatever... which is what an intelligent being should be doing, anyway...

    complaining about the frailties of human nature gets you nothing but a stomach ulcer...
     
  3. Henry The Purple
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    Henry The Purple Active Member

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    There exist those who are going to critique your work poorly, and those who are going to critique it well. If someones critique makes you feel awful, then they are probably doing a good job. Love-dovey sugar-coated critiques are simply not useful. As a writer, you are going to have to learn to put your personal feelings aside when dealing with criticisms. Otherwise, you might have a hard time distinguishing between what is constructive and what is merely insultful.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'm someone who tends to question anything and everything. If the "Why?" comes down to, "Because I have xx years of experience and the following credentials," it carries far less weight with me than if a well-reasoned explanation is given.

    Even better if the explanation is backed up with examples.
     
  5. Mercurial
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    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

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    I dont think any critique or piece of writing is sacred or automatically worthy of respect. It doesnt matter the person. People screw up all the time, and opinion is just that --opinion. Everyone has a different opinion, especially in the creative world. The goal is to do what you feel is best (so yes, always question and follow your heart, no matter who says what) for your piece and your vision, and if you want it published, you should hope that it appeals to the masses. Changing your vision to appeal to the public is just silly and will leave you unhappy.
    Maybe that's just me...

    You should consider nothing sacred except your own opinion, but dont be so arrogant as to shut out anything you dont understand or didnt notice. It's a balancing act. ;)
     
  6. Sabreur
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    Sabreur Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sanctity is a lie. Just because someone did something well in the past does not mean they will be good in the present or future. Talk is air and the past both less and more than that.

    Do not throw away a person's history just because you can, but consider it with an objective eye. Idolatry is idiotic, but blatant and contrived iconoclastic activity is just as objectionable in my opinion.

    So yeah, to hell with the idea of "credit." I will judge someone as they present themselves to me. If they hold true to their illustrious past, I will continue to treat them with the respect they deserve. If they do not deserve respect, none shall be given. Respect is not to be given merely on the merits of the past; that is idiocy of the highest order in my opinion.
     
  7. Kursal
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    Kursal Senior Member

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    I have been writing for fifteen years and was first published ten years ago. Since then I have also worked in theater and radio, never quite managed to break in to television. The opinions I give are informed by my experiences and I do feel that I have a good grasp of the craft, enough to supplement my income through writing. The last book I wrote sold hundreds of thousands of copies (although I am not allowed to tell anyone what it is, and not sure I would want to anyway).

    Now, I know there are some people on here would would love to be in my position, even if it's not particularly enviable, but that shouldn't give my opinion any greater weight. I don't know about the other writers who have been published but I still feel that I am learning. There are still things that I can take away from critical review of my work. If the bulk of the writing process is in the editing then the bulk of the learning process is in learning how to edit and I think that develops as your style does.

    I started out in comedy and have ghost-written so I have the experience of writing in another persons voice. For me, I suppose, it means I didn't find my own voice for some time. Even the highest paid and most critically acclaimed writers have problems like this occasionally and I'm sure they could all do with some review at some point. Does it make their opinion worthless? Of course not. Should it mean they are treated with respect? Yes I think it probably does but it does not mean that their opinion is always correct and that it should be treated as sacrosanct.
     
  8. Dalouise
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    Dalouise Contributing Member

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    I disagree. It's just insulting and aggressive to make someone feel that way and if a writer has produced something to delight and entertain, then it's sheer bad manners to belittle their work in public and can put an aspiring writer off for life IMO. As for toughening up, are all successful writers hard nosed b*******? That would be a shame, if true.
     
  9. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    I honestly have always despised those writers who think having been published makes them an 'expert' on the writing craft. I can't remember which author it was, but we had one at my public library when I was in 8th grade and the woman glanced at what I was writing and told me that it was crap because it didn't follow a certain style. Considering I published my novel the next year, I can safely assume she was wrong. Honestly, I knew she was wrong when she said it the first time. No writer of any status has the right to tell you something is 'bad.' They have the right to say "this could be fixed grammatically because it is incorrect" but not simply "this is bad." I dunno...it's one of those things that get under my skin.

    A good critique is going to be a critique that makes you think, not one that makes you hate your writing.

    ~Lynn
     
  10. Kursal
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    Kursal Senior Member

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    Yes, I agree with that and to build on it; I think a good critique will also throw new ideas in to a concept. For me, one of the most exciting parts of writing has always been working with others to generate ideas (we did this a lot in radio). If somebody's work can spark an idea in you and you share that idea with the original author then your idea can, subsequently, spark off more ideas in them.

    Lets face it, a critique should be about helping the other person in the best way that you can, be that grammatically, conceptually or just in terms of giving them the support they need to grow and continue.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You know, there is one type of critiquing point that I respect more than nearly any other. It says something like:
    The critic acknowledges that he or she doesn't have the full answer, and at the same time is willing to stick his or her neck out and try something new. Everyone learns, everyone wins.
     
  12. lessa
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    lessa Contributing Member

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    Cog you are a smart man.
    I like that answer.
    Now I have a way to answer when I critique.
    Mine always seems to be stumbling over my own words.
    thank you.
     
  13. thegearheart
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    thegearheart Member

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    I worry from some of the responses that I have been unclear.

    I certainly don't want folk to think I get upset when someone critiques me. That's simply not the case. I don't care if you're published or unpublished, rude or nice. I look at every critique with equal weight, and carefully choose what advice to take, and what to discard.

    What my post was really intended to complain about is that I watch the younger members of my writing group pander to the veteran wannabes and those who have been published. Many times, our writing discussions go like this: the new guy gets dogged by the published guy, I disagree and try to build up the new guy, then the published guy's credentials outweigh my opinions. They WORSHIP these people.

    Kursal, I respect you because YOU have accomplished some of MY dreams. I want to be published, too, so I look at you as a way to learn to do that. However, your opinions are given the same weight as anyone else's when it comes to your critique of my writing.

    This is not to say that I don't respect anyone else's opinions. In fact, I give everyone's advice VERY careful consideration.
     
  14. Neha
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    Neha Beyond Infinity. Contributor

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    Okay when I read the title...I was like, is this cultural or something? Reading your post made me realise, yeah writing is cultural. It's an art, it's different for everyone and it's evolved differently. And like a three-year old is fluent in their native language, all writers are fluent in writing...the word being fluent, not perfect.

    That is exactly why two reviews from a piece are never identical. People are entitled to there own opinion, they might think alike yah, but never identical. The basic thing however is that the peson putting up his piece should remember that it may be interpreted differently by different people and try not to take it personally. You're putting it up here on the net, where no one really knows you, and well you just have to take everything with a pinch of salt(It's that right?)

    And for the reviewer, the best critique a critic can give is when he judges what he feels in the poem, not what he thinks he should.

    Just my opinion, of course.
     
  15. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why would you be out of line? It's your writing, so you get to decide whose critique you'll consider "worthy" and whose you won't.

    As for myself, if a critique is coming from a known, published writer, their opinion for the most part is going to carry more weight than somebody else's for the obvious reason: they've worked on getting their stuff published before, so they have experience and knowledge that comes from having their work critiqued and edited by professionals, and therefore would likely know of potential problems in someone else's writing; and their writing was considered good enough to be published, which means, generally, that they have the talent and know-how to write marketable/publishable stuff, and so when they give their opinion, it's coming from all of that experience and talent. In other words, it is generally going to be an opinion that I'll give more weight to than someone without any of that background.
     
  16. burned_out
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    burned_out Member

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    Yes, but if that awful feeling makes you change what you want your work to sound like, then that defeats the whole purpose, doesn't it?

    I've never had a critique that made me feel awful, but I have had ones that are kind and constructive at the same time. It doesn't have to be harsh.

    The ones who take the harsh critiques to heart, should not be writers at all, because if they get published, its going to be ten times worse.
     

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