Friday, October 8, 2010

Critical Damage

Our Mascot

For me “MOOSEMEAT” is not a novelty burger item gobbled down at a county fair or the unfortunate result of a rural driving mishap.  For me, Moosemeat is my writer’s group. It’s a magical place where writers gather together in a warm, trusting environment twice a month and eviscerate each other, creatively speaking.

(Okay, it’s not that bad, really.)

It is, however, a very formidable and demanding group. Its members are very honest, highly insightful and deeply thoughtful. They vary in their approach to critique, some gentle and encouraging, some passionate and challenging others blunt as the south end of a northbound rhino. Though the members run the gamut of stylistic influences and preferences they are always open to whatever sort of riff you are laying down. Well… mostly.

I confess to feeling a bit hard done by, on occasion, due to my populist approach to the medium. It’s a minor prejudice for most of the members, and one that I’m cantankerous enough to push back against if I’m feeling unfairly slighted. However, having said that, it can hurt sometimes too. (One member once tossed off this little riposte: “You should send this out. Luckily genre stuff doesn’t have to be that great to get published.” Ouch, man… ouch…)

Hey, what can I say? I like pulp and adventure and horror, and all things low culture. For the most part genre stories are what I want to write, and I make no apologies for that. But, in a group as well educated and literary in its tastes as this one, it can sometimes give one the feeling of being the bumpkin relative at the royal dinner. You try not to drink from the finger bowls.

I don’t want to overstate anything here. Being part of this group has done wonders for my writing, mostly by giving me an excuse to get off my ass and do it, already. And most of the criticism is thoughtful, truthful and generous, regardless of the genre. There is a real sense that, whatever your style, everyone wants you to do your very best work. For me that is a wonderful thing indeed.

I’ve sent several stories into the masticating maw of the Moose, and generally the results have leaned toward the negative, but the appraisals have always been very helpful to one degree or another. 

I’m currently doing something really crazy. I’m writing a novel. It’s a genre piece of course, but the response has been pretty positive so far, with some acute reservations here and there. I’ll be discussing some of the responses here, and probably putting up a few of my stories as well.

Stay tuned for the sweet, sweet humiliation. 

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