I recently read a piece where authors discussed the best and worst advice they’d ever received. I’m blogging so that’s a major clue that the discussion got me to thinking. Just what was the best advice I ever got about writing? Or publishing? What was the worst?
Good advice is very subjective to an individual’s particular circumstance. Bad advice is universal. Good advice takes many forms, some of which are clearly evident. Frequently though, good advice sneaks in on silent cat paws. We don’t realize what it is until it’s sitting on our chest tickling our face with long white whiskers.
“Keep going” is the best advice I received about writing. It wasn’t said with the intent to whip me into producing more books or to punish me for slowing down due to exhaustion. It was given to me by a man whose doctors had just told him his last option was a Hail Mary surgery. “If you love it, if it’s important to you, then keep going.”
It was so simple and at the same time profound. It gave me cause to examine myself and my feelings about writing. It made me consciously aware of just how important writing is to me. My world is ranked by family/home/hearth, writing, friends, job. Writing may appear on the surface to be a hobby, but it is words that define the inner me. The so-called Fortunes of writing are like the tides, they ebb and flow but never touch who I am or influence the words on the page.
The worst advice I ever got about writing was to join a critique group. It’s supposed to be a huge help and I’m sure it is to some. The group I had the misfortune to fall into had one girl who wanted the group to proofread items for her day job, and another whose head exploded when I asked a question about a paragraph that didn’t make sense to me. I can’t remember her name. She didn’t last long. I learned a great deal from that experience.
So all this may not mean a thing to you. Writing is a solitary art form. If you’re as happy and content in your career as I am in mine, I’m truly delighted for you. Those of us who have many years of wear and tear on our keyboards value knowing the shared experiences more than actual advice, and I guess that’s the whole point of today’s blog. Advice should be about the sharing, not the demanding of actions that change our course - unless we want it to.
Oh, and for the record, the Hail Mary worked.
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