The Writing Police

Years ago, I taught myself to weave fabric and rugs on a loom. Some of the pieces I made were constructed of yarn I had spun myself from wool my dad had given me from his sheep. It was so gratifying. Anyone who has made something with their hands will agree that it is one of the most exciting, satisfying things you can do.

Then, I had the misfortune of joining a weaving guild.  Michigan has a long history of producing famous weavers, but I decided early on that they were the weaving police, and if I really wanted to have fun I needed to avoid them like the plague. One experience revolved around a woman who picked up a rug I had woven like it  had poop on it and stated in front of the rest of the guild members that it wasn’t going to be allowed in their booth at the Michigan League of Handweavers conference that year because it wasn’t black and white, the colors they had chosen for their projects. It was natural wool colors, greys, whites, etc. Anyway, I fought for the right to show the !@#$%^&* rug and it appeared in the display. I quit the guild after that show.

The experience has made me gun shy of joining professional groups of any kind. As a nurse, I shunned the group who oversaw the Operating Room nurses…half the time they talked politics and I didn’t understand what they were saying. Today I read something that reminded me why I don’t like  groups.  I joined a writer’s group, paid the dues, and low and behold, the first communication I got was this abridged statement;

“Hi I’m ***** and the reason I’ve joined the Alliance is that I feel that
there are far too many poorly written indie publlished books out there and
an organisation such as this can only raise the….”

The misspellings were the author’s. All I could think was huh? Have I joined a group of writing police? Another group I’m a member of in Linked IN has a few males that will take exception to what I write no matter what it is. If I agree with someone, they disagree with me. If I disagree and state my case, they double disagree.  At age sixty-one, I no longer walk away and shut my mouth. My friend Betty, got me a pin that says “The older I get, the more everyone can kiss my as s.” (I have to put that space in A S S because for some reason, my computer won’t allow me to swear.) Anyway, who the hell are these people who can criticize others work? I don’t care if it’s a piece of art or a poem or a hair cut.Raising the level of quality in a group should revolve around helping people achieve excellence, not insulting them or criticizing them.

Whew. Now I can get off my soapbox.

PS. The only guild  that really helped me become a better craftsperson besides the one I currently belong to; The Lakeshore Fiber Arts Guild,   was the South Jersey Guild of Handweavers and Spinners. What a fabulous group of generous, kind, and encouraging women and a few men.


4 thoughts on “The Writing Police

  1. My 1st experience with the weaving police was in 1994 with what I lovingly call one of the guild’s battle axes, she still is. While her work is well-done, it’s predictable and smells old and musty/dusty when she puts her work out for sale, and it makes me gag.
    And with my spinning shortly thereafter with another blow-hard who has since left the physical earth, leaving multitudes of spinners upset and disgusted with his unkind, clueless, unthinking remarks.
    One thing I took away from all of this was that I could no longer be in a teaching position where I was responsible for judging/grading original work. Who am I to say beyond a quality standard what is good and what is not? Would my remarks stop a budding creative person from expanding beyond the scope of what they submitted? Helping to guide them to understand quality standards was the only thing I felt comfortable passing on to them and found I could no longer do the job I was being paid for. Quality was the one factor they simply didn’t care about, they were raised with the value of “good enough” and no matter how much I tried, they couldn’t “see” the difference.

  2. Carol, my experience with the weaving police began in 1976, with a group in Brighton. Then we moved to Philadelphia and the weaving police there were famous for leaving sobbing weavers in their wake. Next, a group in Northern California; I never even made a meeting because the one weaver I met scared the crap out of me, and finally, Manhattan. I walked all the way from my office on 3rd Avenue to School Products on Broadway to pick up a Dorothy loom just so I’d have something to weave on that weekend, and then couldn’t get a cab on the way back. We are a die hard group.

  3. Ah yes, the “insert spinning/knitting/weaving/writing/etc” police, I find hilarious because it must be so difficult to maintain that persona and think others really value their admonishments. They are everywhere, sometimes in full force and I have learned to take care of myself and my work, and not put any stock in their remarks unless they have at least the same amount of textile education and lifelong experience I have, and if they don’t….well…I don’t. I exhibited for the first time last year at one of the conferences and my business partner and I were literally falling off the chair laughing knowing full well that the “police” had no idea what to do with or how to judge or classify my work – it was so out of their realm of fiber exposure. I can’t say I didn’t do it on purpose knowing full-well that particular venue is well known for the self-imposed “police”

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