Here I go again, saying ditto to what Alicia said. Critique groups tend to clean up a lot of errors before the manuscripts land on my desk, which makes my job easier. Writers can learn a lot from a solid critique and from thinking through someone else's raw work. These types of partnerships can ease the isolation of writing and provide some validation for lifestyle choices.
These are all good things.
Alicia, how many times has a writer told you her critiquing partners love her work? I suppose it's a step up from, "My mother loves this!" Critiquers are presumably more adept at evaluating raw work, and they don't have that umbilical -- and wholly subjective -- bond with the writer.
But you know, when I'm making revision notes for a writer, they're usually not optional. There are times I'll toss out a suggestion -- an idea, really, or a brainstormed note -- to see what the writer thinks. In those cases, I usually let them know it's an idea rather than a revision note. And I usually ask for their opinions on those ideas, and maybe we'll chat about the idea a bit. We both have the same goal, to strengthen the manuscript, so this type of exchange can sometimes be quite fruitful.
That's not the same as a revision note. A revision note details something that must be changed in order to bring the manuscript up to standards. I don't mind discussing revision notes because, frankly, there's usually more than one way to peel a potato. Maybe I provide an idea for fixing something, and maybe the writer will have a different idea that accomplishes the same goal. Or maybe, together, we hit on yet another solution that's better than anything we could come up with alone. That's all fine, as long as the underlying problem in the manuscript is resolved.
But when a writer responds to my revision notes with something like, "I won't change that because my critique group liked it," then we have a problem. Your critique group never trumps your editor.
I'm happy to report that few writers make comments like this. That makes it all the more surprising when it does happen. These comments can take many forms -- my best friend says that's her favorite part of the story; my writers' group says I'm a natural storyteller; my high school English teacher never would have marked that -- but they really mean the same thing: there's a problem.
And the solution to that problem, more often than not, is a politely worded rejection letter.