Sunday, January 15, 2012
Can You Wrestle With Your Critique Group?
Now, I realize I shouldn't abuse this privilege. I have no patience for people who can't handle feedback. Why be in a critique group if you're not willing to be critiqued? However, I've discovered something about myself. I learn by wrestling through things. I learn by arguing, discussing, disagreeing.
I don't get biblical on this blog too often, but I'm about to do it now. You've been fairly warned. There's a passage in the Bible where Jacob wrestles with an angel. It's where the name Israel comes from and it means "he who wrestles with God." I LOVE this story, because it absolutely contradicts the notion of blind obedience. In fact, Jacob goes at it with the Lord Almighty, wins the match, and gets a blessing for it.
My teacher self has another example. The latest brain research shows that you build more neural connections from working on a difficult problem, whether you get the right answer or not, than from solving a problem you already know. In fact, kids who struggled and wrestled and were taught the value of that PROCESS actually did better on post-assessments than students who were simply told how smart they were. I have a feeling I'm not doing this particular bit of info justice, but the summary is - when you struggle to understand something, your brain grows.
So, back to my critique group. As much as I fear I may drive poor Suzanne crazy with my questions and responses and arguments, I am so tremendously grateful that she doesn't write me off and let annoyance get the better of her because the process of wrestling with her is making my work better and me better as a writer. And that is a blessing.
What battles and struggles have you found valuable? Who are your favorite folks for a good intellectual wrestling match?
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