It sometimes appalls me how genuinely mean creative people can be to each other. I know it’s not limited to creative people, that being a dick is a trait that crops up everywhere, like mildew, but this one’s on my mind lately.
Twice a month, I hit a writer’s group in a next-door town. I’ve been going pretty regularly for four years or so, and the reason I’ve continued to go is because the people there are pretty awesome. They genuinely celebrate each other’s triumphs (‘Yay! Got a short story published!) and offer support during the crappy moments (‘Got six rejections this month! Must be a record!).
I like belonging to this group. There’s a big range of ages and genre interests, and it’s not too formal. And it’s nice to bitch to someone who understands what the hell you’re going on about.
But, judging by the experience of some other creative people I know, I’ve hit the writer’s group jackpot here. Seems like every month I hear of some critique group that turned into an excuse to abuse the weakest member; some reading ‘buddy’ who just scrawled “This sucks” in the margins of a manuscript; some meeting beginning with a very condescending, “Oh, you write romance/horror/poetry/comics/whatever? How cute.” Like there’s only one way to be creative, and everything else is somehow less valid.
And I’m not talking about useful criticism here, the kind of thing that might help you sharpen a piece to get it ready for submission or improve your skill. Most importantly, the thing the writer asked for. That’s…well, useful. I’m talking about the unsolicited advice, the snide little comments, and the people who somehow think they need to guard the font of creativity lest it be tainted by the unwashed masses of people who do it differently.
I have news for those people: you’re tumours.
And I know, I know. It’s so hard not to judge people, right? Everyone does it, down on a little sub-sub-basement level that doesn’t get enough light (and probably has mildew). Hell, I’ve done it. My thing used to be against fan fiction. It’s not like real writing, right?
Wrong. That was me being a tumour.
Now, I never actually gave anyone crap over writing fan fiction. I just silently judged them, like a jerk. But eventually I pulled my head out of my own ass and realized that if it made those people happy and they weren’t hurting anyone, then what fucking right did I have to get all self-righteous about it? It doesn’t affect me. It doesn’t affect my writing. It might not be my thing, but that’s cool. There’s lots of things that aren’t my thing, like bird watching or BDSM. But if you’re out with a spotter’s guide at dawn or mail-ordering spreader bars via Amazon, then whatever. And if you like writing Transformer slash fiction, then, also, whatever. I’m just doing my own thing. You do yours.
And if you ever need to think of a sexy way to say “elimination port”, I’m there for you.