I first encountered a woman named Rose DesRochers in late 2003 in an on-line poetry workshop forum. I made the mistake of critiquing a poem that she posted to the workshop—where the guidelines clearly stated that the workshop was not a place for frivolous praise, but for serious attention to craft.
Because she was new, and the poem seemed rather personal, I included the following statement in the first part of my critique:
“Please know that my comments are directed at the poem, at the writing, not at you personally, and that critizing the poem is not the same as critizing the message.”
Over the next four paragraphs, I told her that I thought her central metaphor was effective but that I saw three areas where she could improve: spelling and grammar, imagery, and the concluding stanza (where the metaphor broke down). I explained nicely and in basic terms why I thought there was room for improvement in each of these areas, and, in the case of spelling and grammar, I made a couple of suggestions on how to improve.
Well, guess what. Rose didn’t like anything I had to say. Her responses include the following (note: I have not edited these at all; the excerpts are exactly as posted):
“You might want to read my comments to [another poster]. How I mention my spelling and grammar sucks and that is why we use proof readers to help us with this”
Um, fine, but it’s only polite to have someone proofread your poem BEFORE you post it to a workshop.
“Because your little copy and paste speech lacks real meaning and you are a poor pissed critic.”
Oh, I see, if you don’t like someone’s opinion about your writing, then you can just call them a “pissed critic” and everything they say is invalid. And why would I be pissed at her? For writing a shoddy poem?
And in response to my suggestion that she may not be ready for the level critique in this workshop:
“level of critique ? My lady level of critique you are a snob. No other definition that a stuck up snob…You are too quick to be critical. Perhaps I should go have a nice look read over one of your poems.”
She did carry out her threat of a revenge critique, but I thanked her nicely for her time.
“I can see why because you are a snob.Difference between being a critic than thinking your shit don't stink. Get down off that high horse bitch you wipe your ass like all of us.My God what a snob.”
And again with the insults. For simply suggesting that spelling and grammar are important.
In a wonderfully ironic turn of events, this woman now claims to be the founder of www.todays-woman.net (what is a “founder” of a web site anyway?) and a web columnist—which means that she posts poorly written articles at sites that provide free web content. One of her articles was picked up by fictionfactor, but it was apparently so poorly written that a number of writers complained to the web site—and the site pulled it. I guess spelling and grammar do matter.
In “Portrait of a Narcissist – Part Two”, we will discuss what happens when an amiable and generous writer (not me!) joins todays-woman.net without realizing what she was getting into.