(Or, Going Galactic)
You may want to sit down for this story.
Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away…
…I worked for a mid-sized manufacturer as a Human Resources Manager. Yes, me. In Corporate America.
Of the workers in this company, most were happy go-lucky domestic worker-bees, but the company slowly underwent a transformation. We all knew about our niche-y international locations. But they were…a lot of work. Headaches for anyone who had to deal with them, because, well, they were different. Several years went by, and a seismic shift came into play: the majority of our sales started to come from non-domestic sources, and where the sales called, we had to follow. We were no longer a mid-sized US company, but a global workforce with many factors to consider. From a human resources perspective, I had to know about different labor laws (and believe me, US is hard enough by itself). It felt like drinking mud at first, but I had to do it. I got used to it, and learned.
No, really learned. The world is full of different perspectives that I (up to that point) wouldn’t have considered. I got a taste in a continuum of no company-versus-government sponsored healthcare, and don’t get me started (hint: frustration is universally rampant; hope is—define hope again?).
And I bring you back to this galaxy to say one thing: in my experiences, above and beyond the critiquerly arena, you should to move outside your own little world once in a while. Critique genres outside of your comfort zone. Because? You may learn a thing or two. And maybe? You could teach something new to your critiquee, help them find a deeper sense of themselves as an author. Almost like guys who study ballet to be better at their real passion: football.
Thing is, no one is going to force you to do it. It’s easier to say, I write realistic contemporary*, and I won’t, nay, I cannot critique fantasy**. Now, if you are an agent or editor, you have every right to say this. Those people have a different job to do, and it’s very specialized to their areas of interest. But remember, most of us are not agents or editors (see title of blog).
I’m not saying that you have to critique outside your genre of choice* all the time, or even half of the time. But working on the theory that multiple critique partners is optimum for their differing strengths in critiquing, I would hypothesize that finding critique partners outside your genre is one way to ensure your chances at achieving that optimum state.
Today’s wonderment: How many different genres have you critiqued?
*any genre can be inserted here
**any other genre can be inserted here