“I wanted you to like me, and I thought the best way to do that was with brilliant and insightful critique.” This is what I said during the first session at my critique group. “But in order to do that, I’d have to be brilliant. So instead I made cookies.”
That’s pretty much a verbatim quote from the TA for my English 201 class, who baked cookies for the few students who attended on the day before Thanksgiving. I recommend this strategy because it works.
The second month, I thought about bringing cookies again. I like baking for other people. I also like eating the things I bake, making it a win-win. But the second month, my Patient Husband said, “If you bake for them this month, they’ll expect it every month.”
I repeated that on Twitter, and someone replied, “Newsflash: they already expect you to do it every month.”
The day before the writing group, I did bake some awesome oatmeal-cinnamon chip cookies, but Kiddo#4 stood on a chair to watch and managed to break the sugar bowl on the stove-top. I had to throw away two dozen unbaked cookies, on the grounds that I didn’t think anyone would like Glass-Shard Chip Cookies. After that, I wouldn’t have had enough, so I didn’t bring any.
This coming Saturday it’s the third session. I thought about brownies.
Then I realized, I’m getting critiqued. Does that change things?
I like this group a lot. There’s insightful critique; it’s well-organized and everyone has an equal chance to participate. What worries me is that showing up with cookies might undercut the other members’ negative comments about my manuscript because they don’t want to hurt the feelings of the baker, and above all, I don’t want them to hold back.
I’m overthinking again. Critique is useless if it’s only positive, right? Saying that a piece’s dialogue works well but omitting that the main character is loathsome (for example) doesn’t help the writer, who needs to know those things in order to improve.
Cricket had a great idea:
The urge to write versus the urge to bake. Who will win?