I write this minutes after sunrise in Calgary, at 8:37 am, this shortest day of 2020.
My clutter clearing project continues (see my recent blog post). Yesterday, in a box of old papers, I stumbled upon an article from Writer’s Digest magazine, ‘How to know when workshop criticism is useful or destructive, irrelevant or priceless.” The article published in the late 1990’s or early 2000’s shows how times have changed. Among irrelevant criticism, author Nancy Kress includes comments from people with a political agenda. She writes, “I have heard stories condemned for their negative portrayals of a woman, a union organizer, a military officer, a high school teacher and a wolf (the latter condemnation came from a wildlife advocate). None of the criticism dealt with literary concerns (“This portrait isn’t convincing”). Instead, each centered on a political concern (“When you show a woman as weak and manipulative, it just reinforces stereotypes”).” I don’t know if Kress’ comment was controversial at the time, but I doubt today she’d advise writers to ignore a critique centered on insensitivity to a particular group.