I don't mind critique, in fact I welcome it. But I don't like being told that something (when it has been stated is a rough, rough draft) gets a comment that the writing is below standards for a group, or that one can stay in the group if the suggested changes are made (that's not how critique works, you can't demand an author make the changes as they are suggestions). I also am not sure I appreciate being given the suggestion that another member can help me hammer it into shape. I do know what I am doing. The sample I submitted was written this month for Nano. I haven't even edited it yet. I submitted a sample thinking it was just to give an idea of what I am working on right now. If I had known I was to be judged acceptable or not for the group, I would have submitted something perfect (nothing is ever perfect though). I also am not sure I feel comfortable with a group of people discussing me without including me.
I have been kicked out of a writers group for being a menace to society (one romance author hated horror and gore and thought society should be protected from it). I've been called disgusting because of my writing. I've been asked very personal questions because of my writing. I've had people think they were better than me (and maybe some were, it isn't a contest) and tell me I should quit. But, too often, I have people tell me that my writing isn't up to their standards, but isn't that why I am in a group? To help me improve? I, like most authors out there, am full of doubt, and anxiety, and devaluing of self because of writing. I get scared anytime someone buys my book that they will write a scathing review. I myself try not to write bad reviews, although I will admit, I have. But more often than not, it isn't the writing that bothers me, it is the characters, or the plot, or the formatting.
I'm a damn good author, but no one has a good first draft, and often no one has a good second draft. I want critique, how can I fix what I don't know is wrong? However, I don't think we, as writers, should be judged good or bad or worth being part of a critique group by someone else's standards. In Huntsville, Alabama, I was in a critique group that I truly miss. We accepted all types of authors and all genres, but we still did what we were supposed to, we critiqued. We told people what we thought was good, and what needed work, and we didn't pussyfoot around feelings, or at least I didn't feel like we did. I don't want people to tell me my stuff is fabulous, I know it isn't. But, I want acceptance, just like everyone else does. I want people to read my work and see the value in what I have so far, while telling me that this is what I can do to make it better. Don't just tell me it "is below standards for the group" and insinuate that other members in the group can help me do a what I do better than I do it by telling me "another member can help hammer it into shape." We've just met. You got 250 words of a rough draft, give it a moment.
I'm not mad, or angry, or upset, but I feel like we are so ready to be critical and put someone down, that we forget everyone is struggling. I mean, I know authors who have some 20 books, and had books made into television mini-series, and they still have to work a day job. Help each other out but offering real help. Don't make assumptions that lead an author to believe that only your opinions matter. Really, the thing about the message that bothered me most was this part, "you can resubmit the original sample with changes made according to the critique it received." I don't even know if I am keeping what I have, and when you critique something it is a suggestion (as previously stated).
As authors, we need to help when we can, because being an author is such solitary work. We need friends who will give us honest critiques, without making us feel like we should give up. It isn't about being better than someone, because some of already know people who are better than us, it's about strengthening a community that has already failed so many.