Read my Lips, Mr. Smooth

Miss Snark:

My current WIP is a love story about what happens when the relationship is essentially put on trial in a criminal courtroom. A legal seminar company offers a yearly workshop for lawyers who write featuring speakers like Lisa Scottoline and Stephen Horn. It also sponsors an annual competition. This is my first attempt to use my law license in my writing so I thought I'd enter. My work is a little different for the genre, so I emailed the group to be sure I qualified and I did.

In preparing my submission, I sent the 2,500 word excerpt to my husband, asking that he read it and give me his thoughts. He is surely not a romance reader, but this is a little different from hardcore romance. After a while he replied saying, "Are you going to ask me for my opinion about this? Please don't. I love you." The email conveyed his opinion in a rather "in your face" fashion, so I didn't ask.

I'm about 81,000 words into the book - not quite at the end but it's in sight. The problem is that now, when I sit down at my keyboard, instead of my characters, I hear my husband's email running in my head, over and over. Somehow, I can't seem to get past it.

I know I risk being labeled nitwit of the year, or even whiner of the year (or possibly the decade) but do you have any suggestions for how I might deal with a bad review from the person whose opinion matters most?

Thanks in advance for your help.

I'm sorry but YOU do not qualify for nitwit of the day week or year. Your husband on the other hand...yikes!!! I know you love him but please let me kick him...just ONCE...in the legal brief of your choice.

Aside from his subtle cruelty, Mr. Smooth may actually have helped you. You need feedback from people who can help you figure out what works and what doesn't. Cue: Theme from "Critque Groups Are Your Friend" and a visual of Mr. Rogers singing. Find a critique group, or a writing partner. Have them read the pages. If the WIP isn't W-ing, they can tell you where it falls apart. Elektra's Crapometer can be of help there too...I haven't slithered over in awhile so I don't know what the back log is but throw yourself on her mercy and tell her your marital wellbeing depends on it.

The important thing here is to get past those hurt feelings (much easier advised than accomplished of course) and use this info to move forward. Of course, the visual of Mr Smooth being eviscerated by Killer Yapp may assist in this endeavor. Feel free to use it as needed.

And of course you can learn the music to "Beauty School Dropout" from Grease and just make it your own:

His story sad to tell,
A first reader ne'er do well,
Most mixed up spousal unit on the block!
His future's so unclear now,
He's been outted on Miss Snark's blog now,
Won't even get a snarkly smile!

Angels: (La lalala lalala lalala...)


lizzie26 said...

Wait a minute. Am I missing something? The husband and wife converse by email only? Maybe I read too quickly, but I don't remember reading where she says she spoke in person with him about the manuscript and his response.

LJCohen said...

Hubby is not my critiquer of choice. I only share about 10% of my poetry with him. Either he says 'it's nice dear', or 'I don't get it'.

He's better reading my novels, but he's still not specific and critical enough to help me sharpen the work. That's what my crit group is for.

Somethings you keep *out* of a marriage.


RiterLady said...

Oh, Ms. Snark, such a lovely singing voice...great song!

Dear Lawyerly Writer and Wife...Sometimes there areas of your life that should not overlap. This is obviously one of them. Realize that romance, even lawyerly romance, isn't your dh's area of expertise! Hopefully he's better at his other husbandly duties!

I'm with Ms. Snark. Find that critique partner/group...someone who knows the genre and doesn't share your bed. Odds are their comments (even the negative ones) will be much easier to take, and much less likely to hurt you.

Good luck!


Writerious said...

At least Mr. Smooth is one step up from my ex, who was all eager back in our dating days to read bits of a fantasy novel I was working on, waxed enthusiastic about it though without commenting on anything specifid (first red flag), then years later admitted he'd never read it, had no intention of reading it, just said that to score points, and why was I wasting time writing when I should be paying attention to him in the evening?

The thought of Killer Yapp doing him extensive damage -- ahhh, refreshing.

Jane Lebak said...

My husband doesn't like most of my main characters. Nowadays, he seldom reads my work until it's published, although sometimes I read aloud snippets to him.

It's important to me that he should like my work, but it's not a dealbreaker if he doesn't. I just look at the books on our shelves and see how different is the work he likes from the work I like. We can meet in the middle, of course, but his tastes and mine simply are not convergent.

He dislikes my main characters while I'm head over heels in love with them, and it's for the same reason: they tend to be dark and take themselves very seriously. It may be that the writer's husband dislikes her work precisely because it strikes the chord she was intending to strike. He just may not appreciate that particular chord.

The writer should limit her husband's exposure to her work while it's early and vulnerable, and I wholeheartedly agree about a critique group.

My one and only published novel was something I brought to my then-boyfriend and said, "Should I continue with this?" and after reading the first chapter, he said yes. The main character is one of the ones he says he dislikes, but I held onto his "yes, continue" while writing the book. It's possible that the writer's husband didn't realize how closely a writer invests herself in her work. At least, I hope that's the case. :-b

Anonymous said...

Your husband could have been gentler, but more importantly he could have been specific. His generic overall diss was probably a lot more painful than his specific critique would have been, because then you could at least have either addressed his notes (if they were good) or dismissed them (if he was being a nitwit).

When I send a MS to collaborators, friends and family, I usually include a cover letter encouraging them to mark up the pages and asking:

1) Which parts of the story were confusing
2) Which parts of the story were boring
3) Which parts of the story felt phony or clich├ęd or dishonest
4) Which parts of the story were exciting, or moving, or funny or scary (in other words, what were the good parts. This isn't just trolling for praise, sometimes there are good parts that I didn't know about, and sometimes one person's "boring" is another person's "moving." The trick is to get specifics rather than the positive version of your husband's response: "It was good," is useless if you're trying to write well.
5) Whether the story made them curious to find out what happens next.

If I were you I would make your husband do the critique -- he's already hurt you as bad as he can, you may as well punish him by making him do the work of expressing himself in a specific way.

dink said...

I’m sorry that happened. FWIW, I don't think it's ever a good idea to ask for opinions before you have a full first draft. It can pull the rug out from under you and keep you from getting the idea down on paper, or in the case of very positive feedback it can distract you and the writing can get over blown and self-conscious. If you feel you just have to get feedback before the draft is finished ask for opinions on the concept not on the specifics. It's so important to be able to get the whole thing down on paper. It's going to be rough, full of blaring errors, and muddled (who writes a great first draft?). That's why we call them FIRST drafts.

Once you have a full draft no matter how crappy, IT'S FIXABLE. Now’s the time to get feedback (as much and as varied as possible) don't just get feedback from other writers, or relatives and friends, drum up some strangers (people who don't love you). Listen carefully to what you receive, take your time, think about it, then trust your instincts and begin the 2nd draft.

And of course sing Miss Snark’s ditty to drown out the voice of that email.

And wouldn’t it be delicious to prove that DH wrong? ha!

RB said...

Definitely find a critique group. At the risk of sounding cliche' (Okay, no risk involved, gonna be really cliche') most writers can't see the forest for the trees.

Two things: One, your book might not be to your husband's taste. And if it needs work AND he doesn't like it, that's asking a lot. Two, and most importantly, husbands are usually the *worst* critique partners. Too much at stake. (It's right up there with how does he answer the question: does this make me look fat?) More importantly, they don't always know what to critique.

A critique group is not hard to find. Search for your nearest writing organization, or look online for Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, or even Romance Writers of America. Inquire who is starting a critique group. Sisters and Romance Writers suspense chapter (RWA) both have online critique groups with excellent reps. Or you may find one within driving distance of your home (especially if you live near a major metropolitan area) that is worth your time.

It may take you a few tries to find a group to your liking. Contrary to what you may have heard, it is not for nitwits (tho' you're bound to run into a few in your groups.) Many very fine authors got their start in one. Some very popular authors in both romance and mystery still belong to one, and wouldn't give them up for the world.

You may eventually outgrow or outpace your group, but it is probably the best way to see what is working in your book and what isn't.

I got my start with a critique group. I'm on my 6th published novel and one of my critique partners who started at the same time and is still my "partner in critiquing" is on her 23 book. My huband just plain sucks at it. I let him read the stuff after my critique partner is done with it and I've made changes, and just before I send it off to my editor. He feels as though he's contributing when he finds a few typos. But every now and then he surprises me and catches content that needs to be dealt with.

Good luck on the entry!

Anita Daher said...

To the poster,
My hubby doesn't read my work, prepublication, or after, and I'm okay with that...now. I once threatened to lock him down with duct tape, which pleased him for other reasons, but the thing is, he just doesn't like or read fiction, never mind children's lit. He's supportive in other ways.

I second and third the advice of finding a good critique group, and going with that.

That said, yeah, I was a little hurt/miffed too in early days, but I got over it. I'm sure you will too.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Elektra and the Crapometer and the Cat's Pyjamas.

Bernita said...

Dear Writer, you've just gotten golden advice and encouragement.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you LJ!

My husband has read about a dozen fiction books in his entire life (his section of the bookshelf is filled with calculus texts and engineering manuals)!

But he is great at editing/grammar/punctuation details. I leave the plot and story details to my writing group.

Chumplet said...

My hubby does not read. Well, he reads technical articles about geeky things like operating systems. I gave him the first few pages of my first novel and they held his attention. It took him fifteen minutes (or so it seemed) to read five pages, but at least he read them.

He actually chuckled once.

It keeps me going.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure it hurt, but if your husband felt he had to be honest with you and say: "please don't ask for my opinion, I love you." I think there's a pretty good chance there's something's wrong with the work. Husbands tend to strike your ego because they want to see you happy.

Get a critique group in and see if people who do read the genre can spot anything that needs fixing.

And take your husband out for the night. I may have hurt, but he's trying to help your novel along rather than stroking your ego and that should be commended.

Jean said...

I can't speak for the husband and wife represented in this post, but I live 800 miles distant from my spouse. We converse via email and phone daily -- in person every couple of months at best.

My spouse isn't my first choice as a first reader. I'm doubt he'll be a choice to read anything -- his tastes are too different from my writing. I haven't received much response for the few things I've asked him to read. I presume that's for the best and seek useful feedback elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

There is a tiny irony in this post, it seems to me, since the WIP is about "what happens when the relationship is essentially put on trial in a criminal courtroom." Of course, this relationship has only been put on trial in the court of Snarkly opinion ... :-)

Anyway, she must be a much faster writer than I, if she's gotten 81,000 words into her ms before finding that her husband doesn't read/doesn't like (her? or any?) fiction or whatever the problem might be.

Maybe the constant thrum of her husbands voice when she tries to write is perhaps suggesting she might need to talk to him? Listen to what something inside herself might be trying to tell her? Just because he loves her (let's give him the benefit of the doubt) doesn't mean he loves her writing ... but does she believe in it herself?

Hard slogging here, but I wish her the best.

Eileen said...

I don't ask my spouse for feedback. He's not my intended reader. Also I'll admit I don't want any hurt feelings in the way. I use others for critiques. Husbands however, can be counted on to make pitchers of margaritas and rub shoulders sore from typing. It's all about getting the right man for the right job.

Anonymous said...

Never, ever ask family to read your work, unless s/he happens to be a NYT best-selling author willing to recommend you to dream agent. Family members lack perspective.

When they're reviewing your work, one of two problems will occur: they won't tell you the truth for fear of hurting your feelings (really, all manuscripts need editing)or they're bringing along all kinds of baggage and past slights to the critique.

Go find a good writers' group, one that workshops manuscripts. Hopefully at least one person in the group has had something published, even a news article in the local paper, and has a sense of craft. Take writing classes, read, but never ask family to criticize you -- it's too easy.

FreeSpirit said...

I don't let hubby read my stuff anymore. He kept trying to edit out my voice--and this from a man who only reads when he absolutely has to and never for pleasure. I swear, the first time I let him look at something, he took a red pen to it and before I knew it, I had a dry, boring how-to book instead of a romance. Yikes!!!

Anonymous said...

The more I think about this post, the madder I get! Ignore your insensitive lout of a husband who doesn't even read in your genre. Find some critique partners. And keep writing.

bonniers said...

I think you should give your husband brownie points for trying to be kind and ease the blow -- it may not have worked, but it was clearly more subdued than whatever he would have said if he had given an honest opinion.

I'm another one who asks for only limited critiques from spouse -- he can be encouraging, and he definitely supports my writing, but most of the time I'd rather not have to deal with the sting of honest critique between us. I don't want him to lie to me. I'd rather be able to whine to him about the latest negative crit and have him tell me I'm wonderful.

One Girl's Opinion said...

I highly recommend www.critiquecircle.com

I actually found out about them from a comment here on Miss Snark's blog. It is an excallent critique program, take a look :)

Non-writerly spouses canot offer decent opinions about your writing. Don't let it hurt you, or ruin your marriage. Just be glad your hubby knows his opinions are not helpful to you and has the good grace to ask you not to ask him. His tastes do not represent yours nor the public at large and certianly not the those of the judges of a highly specific writing contest.

Critique circle--give it a try!

Anonymous said...

I remember the first time I asked my boyfriend to read the first 100 pages of my manuscript. Within three minutes he started laughing. I wasn't sharing his humor. He then told me that my work was a cut above a grocery store bodice ripper. Well--trust me,that night he wished he hadn't said that. There are times I more than welcome his input, but my writing ain't one of them. My editor who is not at all fond of him suggested I never let him read another word of my work. I pretty much don't but he supplies me with a lot of great story line. (-:

Georgia Girl

kis said...

My husband once came up behind me while I was banging out the first draft of a scene. He read aloud a line at random, out of context and with no understanding of what a first draft is for.

"There was a terrible silence."

I still sometimes cringe when I think of it. He said it in that entirely unobjectionable, teasing tone husbands sometimes use with wives, but still, it stung.

Now, I resist the urge to blank my screen when I hear him coming. I tell myself, he's not my intended audience, he almost never reads fiction, and when he does, it's about serial killers and the military.

Still. "There was a terrible silence."

The irony is, the line didn't change in the final draft. It's still sitting there in its own paragraph, like a declaration of defiance.

There was a terrible silence. Hah!

TwistableSim said...

My husband seems to be the exception to the rule, which is especially impressive for someone who doesn't read fiction. Not only are his critiques useful, but he's not afraid to tell me what's wrong. He knows that it doesn't do me any good to hear, "That's great, honey!" when it's not. It doesn't always feel good, but it's not his fault, and I keep that in mind. Sometimes I ignore his advice; other times we get into a long discussion about it and I usually end up with a more thorough picture of the story I want to tell.

The only thing I wish is that he loved to read fiction, so I could impose my entire book on him instead of just parts.

Shana said...

I asked my live-in boyfriend of three years to read my manuscript. Right off the bat the two main characters jump in the sack together. My boyfriend felt uncomfortable reading it, because even though the characters and situations were fictional, I still wrote it.
He never got passed chapter two.

Oh well. He's still good for something. At least he can cook.

I highly recommend CritiqueCircle.

Anonymous said...

You gotta know the husband [or wife] you've got. Stephen King's wife [we've been mentioning this man an awful lot on this blog lately] is his first reader, and the one he writes for, the one he wants to impress.

I write romance, and my first reader is a male friend who does in fact read the occasional romance. I read my friend's work, which is dark, moralizing and didactic, not at all my style. But our collaboration seems to work for us.

I value his advice on the technicals, such as what works, what was set up but did not follow through, where the dialogue sounded forced, where there was a nice twist that he didn't see coming, and stuff like that. Some of his criticisms I dismiss on the grounds that he is not my target audience, and my audience won't share his male perspective on some stuff - like the importance of shoes and clothes.

To the lawyerly writer of the letter: I think it's great that your husband was honest with you. Remember that his opinion is just that, one opinion. Follow the advice in the comments above and try to get over your hurt. Family members should [usually] be the last to read your work, if they read it at all.

Elektra said...

Ooh, ooh, ooh, a chance to advertise!



Anonymous said...

My husband is my first reader, even of the rough draft stuff. We're always honest with each other -- but not with snarky little comments about how we don't dare comment; with actually constructive suggestions. He's a writer, too, which may make this easier.

If the writer's husband couldn't give honest feedback, he could at least have been tactful enough to say, "Sorry, it doesn't work for me," and leave it at that.

I'd award that spouse Nitwit of the Year, for sure.

Remodeling Repartee said...

I think the problem is that the husband's opinion was solicited. He hadn't asked to read it, and the writer showed a lack of judgement in not picking up on that. That's understandable though, for a first timer; it takes time to learn who to trust and who is a wise choice to solicit a critque from.

After two years on this book, my husband asked to read it. I had finished the draft by then and was into my second rewrite. I decided to do it 'cause he made the move. I was worried; I write women's fiction and he IS a guy-guy and a nonfiction reader as well as ADD. What I decided to take from his critiques was if and when the work held his attention. So far, so good. He now actually bugs me for more chapters (and laughs while reading them), so he's become an adjunct accountability partner as well. I think this is probably rare, and I would consel against any family as critiquers unless they are professional writers, and even then, as one poster pointed out--too close, too much baggage.

I think this may have been a self-sabbatoge move on the part of the writer; she is close and what a great way to distract herself and it's succeeding. Get your butt back in the chair and take responsibility for being scared, we all are, and for trying to weasel out of it by blaming a clueless husband, they pretty much all are:)

Anonymous said...

People who are not writers need to be taught to critique. They don't know what it means to us to have our work read and how excruciating it is waiting for a response. My husband is my first reader and he's a great critiquer-but it took years of training for him to get to this point. There are still some stories of mine that he doesn't like, but it doesn't impact on our relationship because we have strong opinions and can respect that.

I think you need to have a talk to your husband and tell him exactly how he made you feel and what you needed from him. Even though he might not get your work he still needs to appreciate how important it is to you and respect the effort you put into it. If you don't, you'll only have more heartbreak down the line. And if he can't appreciate how he hurt you and what place your writing holds, there's a nutcracker I can post you.

Most importantly don't let him throw you off stride. While it's awful that he hurt you, you need to believe in yourself and your writing. It only gets harder and as you go along. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

How about next time he, you know, asks you if it was good for you too (if you know what I mean), you just innocently say "Are you asking me for my opinion about this? Please don't. I love you."

S. W. Vaughn said...

Had to jump in on this one. :-)

First, was "Are you going to ask me for my opinion about this? Please don't. I love you." the extent of your husband's message? If it was, he could have meant it any number of ways:

1. I'm afraid if I say something wrong you won't like me any more.
2. I don't want to accidentally crush your desire to write.
3. I am a man and therefore do not feel qualified to comment on romance, so I might say something is wrong when it's not.

It's SO hard to say what you mean sometimes with e-mail because there is no tone or inflection. Emoticons and LOLs help, but they aren't enough sometimes.

Second, I'm with twistablesim. My husband is an excellent critiquer, and I love him for not always patting me on the head, and not being afraid to tell me "this is stupid" when it's stupid. He is also willing to debate and listen to my reason for writing something or someone a particular way, and can see my point sometimes. Plus, when he does say that a scene is good, it means so much more because he doesn't always say "oh, that's nice, dear."

If you and your husband can't see eye to eye on writing, by all means agree not to discuss it together, because that will only cause problems. But if you can, and he's willing to offer you thoughtful and constructive criticism, I'd say go for it. It can be a wonderful thing.

Oh -- and here's something odd for you. My husband and I e-mail each other sometimes when we're in adjacent rooms, because we both work at home and it's better than shouting through the door. :-)

Just Me said...

You have GOT to pick your beta readers with care. I showed my first two pages to one of my best mates in the world, who made such an idiotic and useless comment that I nearly brained the little bollix.

When you're in the middle of a book, you're vulnerable as hell. You need to pick people who'll get what you're trying to do and help you do it better. Often this means aiming for people who read and love your genre. People who simply don't like your genre can wreck your confidence, because there's just no way they're going to like your book. That's no reflection on either them or the book; but a writer halfway through that novel is inevitably going to take it personally.

There are exceptions. Like Twistable, I turn straight to my man, who doesn't even read fiction. This is part of why he's a godsend. I tend to try to cover up little structural weaknesses with pretty words. Because he can't tell pretty sentences from ugly ones, they don't take him in - he puts his finger straight on the weakness and helps me figure out how to fix it. (His eagle eye for structure is the other reason he's a godsend.)

If you're considering letting someone read some of your book, maybe try talking to him about it first. If he looks bemused, don't bother. If the subject matter makes his eyes light up, you might be on to something.

Chris said...

I'm half of a writing couple, with 23 years of marriage, and at least that many books between us.

My hubby still doesn't read my books, or my WIP - unless we're collaborating. Still, he's my biggest fan, and hugely supportive in other ways. But my work isn't to his taste, and he reached a point very early in my career when he recognixed that he was no a constructive critique partner/first reader for me.

Whatever you do, don't push your husband to critique. Better to find someone who can help, than force the issue. It took me a long time to wrap my head around this - especially since I read everything he writes, and often participate in rewrites when his deadline is tight. But the voice of experience says, "Sometimes, your spouse can be your worst critic. Even when he loves you dearly."

There are other ways for him to support your work, and I am sure you will find them. But this may not be one of them.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Well Pixie ages and marriages are a mystery to outsiders. Let's just say I'm married and old enough to be bonded to my mate.

My mate would be the last person in the world I'd let read my work. Having any relative read your work is a bad idea. The love of my life has a literalist mind and lacks an adventuresome soul.

"Pixies? You wrote a book about pixies? Why, in heavens name? Why didn't you write that history of the lost letters of Joseph Agustus Seiss you always talk about?"

"Because old moldy Lutheran clergymen are boring and pixies aren't."

Get the idea? Find someone you trust and who will be honest AND whom you wont be tempted to exile to the couch.

Oh, and way up in the comment chain? My other comment was supposed to be: Elektra and the Crapometer ARE the Cat's Pygamas.

I think I wrote the first comment without a dose of coffee or chocolate.

archer said...

I love Carolyn See's take on the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I've learnt the hard way not to give the man anything to critique unless it's a genre he reads by choice. No more putting up with him laughing at the mainstream romance, just acting out the erotica. :-)

Anonymous said...

Who says he read it? His message is entirely compatible with realizing the danger of his situation and backing away while declaring his love. Ask.

Anonymous said...


Second all the excellent advice given here - joining a critique group, choosing first readers with care, etc. And thank you to Miss Snark for providing an amazing resource.

Regarding the specific question - how to deal with a bad review from the person whose opinion matters most - I'll throw in a few thoughts.

1. The person whose opinion matters most is *you*. Not your husband.

2. What's the worst thing he could say? Write it down. Say it out loud. Open the window and shout it to the world. :-) Now you've heard it, hopefully it's lost its power.

3. If he emails you his comments, print them out. If you ask in person, take notes. Put them in a file marked 'Revision notes' and add a printout of the excerpt. Set a date for the revision phase to begin. Ignore the file until then.

4. Give yourself permission to write crap. If necessary, write the most cringeworthy sentence/paragraph/page you can come up with. The main thing is to carry on writing, no matter what.

Good luck!


Anonymous said...

I have always dismissed ANY positive feedback from family and friends because I don't think they are being objective. But, I think I would also apply that to any negative feedback as well. Get an on-line reader group's opinion. -JTC

P.S. Just my .02 since I do not submit my writing.

Umbrella Girl said...

I'm thrilled to learn that I am not the only writer in the world married to a man who does not read. And frankly, I would not have been able to write most of the scenes in my first novel if he did. I hope to dog he never reads it!

KIS, you gave me a giggle. I was writing a very steamy sex scene when my husband came into my office - in spite of not being a reader, he has a bad habit of reading over my shoulder that makes me want to smack him a good one - and I had to hold my hand over the screen. I was afraid if I blacked it out, he might suspect some cyber sex was going on.

Mrs. Smooth, I'm sure you love your husband, but you're mistaken if you believe it's his opinion that matters most, unless he's a judge in the competition. Complete the work, submit, win. Watch him sing a different tune. Best of luck!

Daisy said...

From Dorothy Parker:

Say my love is easy had,
Say I'm bitten raw with pride,
Say I am too often sad -
Still behold me at your side.

Say I'm neither brave nor young,
Say I woo and coddle care,
Say the devil touched my tounge -
Still you have my heart to wear.

But say my verses do not scan,
And I'll get me another man!

jillw said...

My husband is my biggest fan and supporter, but he hasn't read more than a few pages of my writing. My daughter and mother are my beta readers; both will tell me when something sucks and needs fixing and that's good enough for him. If they say it's good, he takes their word for it.

Now, if only my mother knew a few agents who trusted her judgement . . .

Anonymous said...

And take your husband out for the night. I may have hurt, but he's trying to help your novel along rather than stroking your ego and that should be commended.

Personally, I think anon and others are cutting hubby way, way too much slack. The writer asked her husband for honest feedback. He not only didn't give it to her, he didn't give it to her in a coy, hurtful way.

If the book didn't work for him, he could have said so. He could have given detailed comments; he could have declined to give detailed comments. If he felt awkward critiquing his wife's work and would prefer not to, he could have said that. Or he could have said he didn't feel competent to judge work in this genre.

Instead he says, "Don't ask for my feedback, because I love you," with this nasty little deniable unspoken message of "and what I would have to say about your writing is so awful it would make it seem like I don't."

At the very least, this guy needs to learn how to communicate. I don't think he should be commended for his tactless words -- I think he should be grateful he's still married after them.

kis said...

Umbrella Girl,

I blank my screen during sex scenes when ANYONE comes up behind me (I do have two kids who read, after all), but its mostly cause I don't want Hubby to get any ideas.

Hey, just cause my MC (or my villain) likes something, (and just cause it may turn me on to READ it) doesn't necessarily mean I'm game to try it. After all, I'm thirty-five years old, and I've never been a gymnast. Sorry, but my legs just don't bend that way!

kis said...

And he still says, "There was a terrible silence," whenever he wants to irritate me.


Lydia said...

My husband picked up one of my mss at random once. He read the first few chapters, and then said, in a puzzled voice:

"She tried to kill him. And then he knocked her down. And then he got all turned on and stuff."

He's actually read the whole of my first pubbed ms. I used him as a typo-catcher. He is not a reader of ANY genre--he hadn't read a book for fun since middle school when I'd met him, and now he reads only 4-6 a year. My books just confuse him--the big words, the characters' thoughts, their behavior, EVERYTHING. I'm not saying he's stupid. He is, in fact, incredibly brilliant. Or I wouldn't have married him. He just isn't a writer.

But he is incredibly proud of all my reviews, my increasing sales, and the number of his coworkers who routinely hound him about when my next book will be out. *g* I'm going to be picking up a second genre...at some point. I can't decide what I want it to be at the moment, but DH is routing for technothrillers.

Anonymous said...

I also vote for Critique Circle at http://www.critiquecircle.com for your critique group.

I worked as a technical analyst in a sales group for many years and another analyst observed that the most dangerous place to be is between a salesman and his commission. In effect, your husband may have seen it as a damned if you do and damned if you don't situation, but worded it such that he was damned anyway. Maybe let it go, and find people who will be specific and not worry about hurting a relationship.

You can Google Critique Circle and find it that way too. Good luck.


Trix said...

One day in the library shortly after finishing my first novel, I got all misty thinking that someday I'd be standing in the B section (my married name is "Brown") and there would be my book. When I told my husband, he looked at me in horror.

"You're not going to use *Brown,* are you?" he gasped.

Well. I was not amused. Later that day, talking to my mother, I said maybe I'd just use my maiden name, "Smith."

"You're not going to use *Smith*, are you?" she gasped.

Sigh. After that, I resigned myself to never talking writing to my family members. My tender ego is a lot happier for it.