From Steve Grocott:

Colin Harvey's article is spot on. The fledgling writer's need for opinion - any opinion, however rigid, bigotted or downright crass - can be a curse. It can constrain imagination and stifle originality. On the other hand it can focus the mind pretty sharply. A good rule of thumb budding writers have probably heard before is the one that says you can ignore single comments, but if a few people are saying similar things then it's time to take notice.

It's important to choose your group wisely. Sad to say, SF/Fantasy groups or SF writers within groups are among the narrowest minds I've come across in my undistinguished and totally unpublished writing career. Last year I was part of a group that imploded on itself and disintegrated, over, I seem to recall, a mind blowingly important debate as to whether a non SF writer should dare to crit a cyberpunk story. How mad is that?

Actually, writing is a pretty mad exercise all round. The market for anything other than Airport style fiction is shrinking by the year, so really, we only carry on for our own amusement. If we're not already a celeb there's little chance of earning anything out of it, and we go to critique groups so that at least someone will read our work. Or we come to websites like this in the sad hope of getting ourselves noticed. The truth is that the number of writers of fiction is fast catching up the number of readers, and it will soon find itself in the same boat as the incestuous world of poetry... mixed metaphors there - AVOID LIKE A RAGING PLAGUE...

Steve, thanks for your response to Colin's article, "A Sea of Voices." I had a feeling it would provoke some reaction.

I wonder if your experience in critique groups is typical, or if others have a less pessimistic view, especially on the prospect for budding authors in general. --PSJ

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