Bloody Google

by | July 15, 2014 | General | 5 comments

The following was originally posted on the Oh Get a Grip blog back when we were posting about every week.  This was my post the week after I was roughed up by the ladies at the eXcessica blog after making some snarky remarks about an anthology of theirs.  It does have some useful advice regarding crits worth repeating.  Anyway, its always enjoyable to see a guy grovel a little too.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

When I was a little kid and the world was full of haints and taints and
supernatural wonders, there was this game called “Bloody Mary”. The way it works,
you have a darkened room and a mirror, then you and your friends are supposed
to look in the mirror and chant “Bloody Mary” three times and a blood soaked
girl ghost with an embittered attitude will appear. Never worked for me. Later
on I tried “Pamela Anderson” and “Sybil Danning” and that didn’t work either.


But that was before the age of “Google Alerts”! Now let’s play the Bloody Mary
game again and see how this goes.

To wit:

As some of us know, a couple of weeks back I really stepped barefoot into a
big, fragrant, steaming pile when I made some uncalled for snarky remarks about
a book called “Alison’s Wonderland” –

Alison’s Wonderland
Alison’s Wonderland
Alison’s Wonderland

which was edited by Alison Tyler

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler

and has a nice story called “David” by Kristina Lloyd

“David” by Kristina Lloyd
“David” by Kristina Lloyd
“David” by Kristina Lloyd

and a pretty hot story called “Managers and Mermen” by Donna George Storey

“Managers and Mermen” by Donna George Storey
“Managers and Mermen” by Donna George Storey
“Managers and Mermen” by Donna George Storey

and a good retelling of the Billy goats gruff story called “The Three Billys”
by Sommer Marsden

“The Three Billys” by Sommer Marsden
“The Three Billys” by Sommer Marsden
“The Three Billys” by Sommer Marsden


“Sleeping With Beauty” by Allison Wonderland
“Sleeping With Beauty” by Allison Wonderland
“Sleeping With Beauty” by Allison Wonderland

which reminded me a little of the Anne Roquelaire trilogy and a really good
story “Unveiling His Muse” by the great Portia Da Costa,

“Unveiling His Muse” by Portia Da Costa
“Unveiling His Muse” by Portia Da Costa
“Unveiling His Muse” by Portia Da Costa

the first one of her stories I’d ever read though not the last, and some other
authors whose stories I also enjoyed, whose wounded feelings and sharp
reproaches appeared on the eXcessica


books blog which you can read here:

I won’t recap my snarky remarks since I would like to leave this post with my
ass and my face in their original places, and they don’t bear repeating anyway.
I said dumb stuff.



Holy moly.

I may be saying dumb stuff at this very effing moment without realizing it or
be about to say dumb stuff without realizing it.

Hey – let’s do this:

I will make a preemptive apology in case it’s needed for anything insensitive I
may say at any time in the immediate future:

I’m sorry.

I’m really really sorry. (fill in the blank)

And my point is, if any of you eXcessica folks show up here in my mirror please
say hi. Write something on the wall so I know you’re around. I like you. I like
your stuff. I was also much chastened when Lisabet pointed out that many or
most of the writers I miffed are in fact regular contributors at my scene ERWA,
some of them with a much greater contribution there than me. So I really
stepped on my dick every way you look at it.

Having said that, I am unrepentant of my comment that Alison’s Wonderland has a
very cool cover. It just does. Okay? You sure? It has a really nice looking
cover art and I don’t give a shit who knows it. There I’ve said it. Get over

What haunted me about my remarks afterward as I explained to Lisabet when I was
weeping on her maternal cyber-shoulder, was that I was entirely tone deaf to
the way I was coming across. This will seem astounding to any writers reading
this, since the accumulated effect of words is the magic we aspire to perfect,
but it had never occurred to me in a zillion years that what I was saying was
offensive to anybody or that Bloody Google would suddenly show up in the mirror
and punch four more holes in my nose. I was actually trying to express
something like what Sommer Marsden

Sommer Marsden
Sommer Marsden
Sommer Marsden

Said in the eXcessica blog –

eXcessica blog
eXcessica blog
eXcessica blog

– which is what I should have said which was something like “we are all
different but great, look at how many groovy flavors of writing there are”.
Which was what I thought it was coming out like but it wasn’t . . . like that
is what I meant it wasn’t . . . but that it’s not . . . . Do you know what I

It didn’t come out that way. Looking back on it, well, yeah. I get that. But
not at the time.

What can I say.

I’m a guy.

My remarks were not constructive criticism, since there was nothing to construct.
Constructive criticism is what we offer when we are attempting to guide the
inquisitive seeker into better paths, so we hope. Constructive criticism is
what we wish we’d had more of when we were younger if we’d been listening.
Which most of us weren’t. Real world, constructive criticism is what we offer
when someone offers us a manuscript for a critique. Giving critiques to the
work of peers, at least when it is asked for, is how we improve our own work.
It’s how we learn to read as a writer, which is an essential skill. It’s how we
express and repay our gratitude for the generosity of those writers who took on
our early incoherent junk as we were learning our chops and helped us improve.
Constructive criticism is what Lisabet has given me, and still does, on those
many occasions when I’ve sent her something half baked and she’s told me
plainly what works and what doesn’t, and 90% of the time I go with what she
says. She’s honest. I listen. Also I like her. I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere
past my first year without her and each and every year since. She has more
faith than I do.

What she said of me, of digging deeper, this is what she does for me too.
Neither of us go for the nits. That’s why God made spell checkers. She deals
with story. She deals with character. She tells me when that is working or
failing, because she knows by now I’ll tear down a story and rebuild it several
times before I’m happy with it. I’ve torn out whole middle sections of stories
when she said something wasn’t working. That’s what you need to hear. That’s
love. Thank you Lisabet. Ever and ever.

Here’s the real problem. When is criticism useful or even wanted?

I come from a unique background. I have had an unusually extravagant exposure
to bullshit compared to the average person. As a consequence my relationship
with truth is . . . . well . . . antagonistic. If I have to choose between
speaking the truth and making someone happy – truth will get heaved overboard
to lighten the load, pretty much every time. The exception is the person who
really loves truth. The one who really wants to know. In that case to speak is
a great honor and a kind of sacred thing. A spiritual act. And even then you’d
still better be careful you’re being helpful and not being a jerk. This begs
the question “What is humility?”

After a life time of passionate, lunatic spiritual searching I’ve got very
little wisdom to show for it. But I’ve got one or two tattered gems.

“Listen friends,” he whispered, with a wave of his hand. “It’s okay. Come, come
see.” He hunched down and waited. Reluctantly, they leaned in. He silently
scanned the little crowd and saw only skepticism. In a low voice he said –

“I’m going to tell you something spiritual I know for sure is true.”

Here we go.

Humility as it relates to truth has nothing to do with pride. It is unrelated
to true pride. Even the pride of an artist or a writer. Humility in its most
useful and plain form is simply this:

The acquired discipline and skill of seeing yourself as you really are.

That’s it.

Humility is the ability to see yourself very plainly, no better or worse,
without playing any games with yourself. It sounds ridiculous. But this is a
very difficult, almost impossible thing to actually do in real life. You can
spend your whole life trying to master this one point, to see yourself as you
really are with no tricks. The ego plays tricks on you all the way. Writing can
be a tool for exploring this, but what we find, what I find, is that my ego
gets very involved in my writing. Ego is what kills rock stars. Ego is what
kills creativity. But ego has a lot to do with what gets your ass in front of
the keyboard day after day when nobody reads your stuff. It keeps you going.
It’s your devil and your cheer leader.

Anyway, as Sommer Marsden would say, this is turning into “a long ass blog”.

“a long ass blog”
“a long ass blog”
“a long ass blog”

My point is this. Constructive criticism is criticism with kindness and
purpose. Friend to friend. BUT – it should be asked for. Boundaries and
specifics agreed on. And you had better be really sure you want it.

Otherwise, tell me what you want to hear and we’ll just go with that and that
way everybody wins.

I think.

C. Sanchez-Garcia



  1. Lisabet Sarai

    Humility is the acquired discipline and skill of seeing yourself as you really are.


    This implies that the concept of "what you really are" has some meaning or makes some sense. I'm not sure it does.

    Who you are today, for instance, is the not the person you were when you wrote this blog – or when you made those well-intentioned but awkward comments about the anthology. That person, for instance, had not finished Nixie's origin story.

    Everything we do changes us.

    And by the way. Stop taking my name in vain!

  2. Fiona McGier

    Ah, Garce, I don't know what you wrote, but you can be honest with me anytime! I drown in your words as my brain travels new pathways, lit by the beacon of your meanderings. It would be a fun exercise, to have you read something of mine and tell me what you really think…it might be good for you too…get it out of your system for a bit. I promise not to be offended. There's no way you could be harder on me than I am on myself.

    P.S. You may be a man, but your writing is definitely not Hemingway-manly. It's too deeply introspective, and your sentences are more than 3 words long.

    • Garceus

      Hi Lisabet!

      Sorry Sorry sorry!

      I am a different person. That's what I'm thinking a lot about these days. I've been trying to meditate more, which knocks a lot of things loose. But also it gives you a sense that what we think of ourselves is way to simple. That maybe its not even there in the way we think it is.Kind of gives me hope too.


    • Garceus

      Hi Fiona!

      It was hot.

      That's my Hemingway imitation.

      "I drown in your words as my brain travels new pathways, lit by the beacon of your meanderings." That would be sucha wonderful phrase in a romance novel. There must be a way to work that somewhere.

      Having said that, I always look for your comments, and I know the folks on Oh Get a Grip do too. If it weren't for you and your enthusiasm we'd feel sometimes like we were talking to ourselves. I do envy your husband in many ways. Most especially his nights. You sound like someone who would be so much fun in bed.


    • Fiona McGier

      ;-D Thanks Garce! That's why we've been married for 30 years!

      Sometimes I feel like I'm intruding on OGAG, but if it's okay with you guys, I'll keep haunting your posts there.

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