I issued an APB, put out a BOLO and set up roadblocks in my search for the worst writing advice I ever received. I sliced open my skull (ouch), emptied the contents onto a fairly clean newspaper (ewww), and with gloves and trepidation squished through it (gross). Nothing, nada, zilch, and in deference to seven years of French, rien. Either I don’t network enough, or my memory isn’t what it used to be, or I don’t listen. Maybe a combination of the three. Probably a combination of the three! Judging from this month’s posts, I’m an oddity, which makes me a little sad. Snort, giggle, snort. Yeah, right. Who am I kidding? I proudly claim my eccentricities.
That doesn’t mean I haven’t been the recipient of advice. I’m a writer with all the attendant writerly insecurities. Heck, I’ve gone out of my way looking for the magic pill that will make my words beautiful and effortless and will banish those insecurities.
I’ve received advice that I took to the extreme. Never a good idea, but it’s a condition I haven’t managed to overcome. I’ve received advice that I ignored because I thought I knew better. Three children have cured that particular flaw. I’ve received advice I wasn’t ready for. Timing is everything! And I’ve received advice I tried to follow but just couldn’t. Heck, I’ve even doled out advice I don’t follow.
So if you’re thinking of asking me for writing tips, you might want to rethink. I struggle with my own work. It’s one of the many reasons I don’t give writing workshops. It’s also one of the reasons I’m uncomfortable judging contests or critiquing other writers’ words. How can I confidently help another writer when I doubt my skills? Besides, who wants to be that well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) author who’s remembered for doling out lousy advice? Uhh, not me!
As published authors, we’re expected to have the answers. Some of us do. Some of us don’t. Some have answers that work for one person but not another. Some of us don’t even understand the question!
So the worst advice I ever received? I’ve yet to receive it. My thanks to the nonentity that shared it with me.