“From Ouch to Oops: A Writer’s Critique of Writers’ Critique Groups,” by Elliot Wilner

Oct 6th, 2021 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

[Peter] Okay, I’d like to comment on the piece that Jim has submitted. I just love the title, “No F’s, Ants, or Butts” — and I think it’s really insightful – but — if I might just make a suggestion — and again I think it’s a great title — Jim might want to soften the wording a little.

[Jim] Ouch!

[Peter] Ouch? Already? What’s the problem?

[Jim] You called me “Jim.”

[Peter] Aren’t you Jim? You look just like Jim.

[Jim] That’s not the point.

[Peter] I’m sorry, what is the point?

[Jim] Ouch again!

{Petr] Another ouch? What’s the problem now?

[Jim] You didn’t say “Oops.”

{Peter} I said I’m sorry.

[Jim] I know, but you didn’t say “Oops.” You’re supposed to say “Oops.”

[Peter] Where is all this “Ouch” and “Oops” stuff coming from?

[Jim] It’s in the “Community Agreements for Critique Groups” that Gina forwarded to everyone – didn’t you read it?

[Peter] Yeah, I read it, sort of. We’re supposed to be really nice to everyone when we critique a piece. I know that. That’s why I said the title of your piece is really great, when really, to tell you the truth, it may not be all that great.

[Gina] Peter, that’s clearly another “Ouch”! Please be careful with your words. It’s obvious you didn’t read the part in the agreement about “Ouch” and “Oops.” Shall I explain it to you?

[Peter] Please.

[Gina] A person should say “Ouch” if he says something that hurts another person. Your comments should pertain only to the writer’s work, not to the writer himself. No personal references. Also, you should call people by the names and pronouns that they prefer. And if another writer says “Ouch,” you should immediately say “Oops” and genuinely apologize for what you said that was offensive.

[Peter] I did say I was sorry.

[Gina] But you should have said “Oops” first. You didn’t do that. Also, your saying “sorry” wasn’t really an apology, because you didn’t even know what you needed to apologize for.

[Jim] Yes. Let me remind you, Peter, of what you did that was offensive. You called me “Jim.”

[Peter] And what’s wrong with that?

[Jim} “Jim” is my personal name. You shouldn’t be making any personal references.

[Peter] Okay. I do apologize for that. And I apologize for not having said “Oops.” Please accept my belated but genuine and sincere “Oops.” Now, do you have another name? An impersonal name?

[Jim] Yes, I do. It’s my family name.

[Peter] And are you willing to share that with me?

[Jim] Of course. My family name is James.

[Peter] So, I can call you James?

[Jim] Yes.

[Peter} Could I call you “Jim” for short?

[Jim] I guess that would be okay.


Elliot Wilner is a retired neurologist, living in Bethesda, Maryland.

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.