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Weirding people out since 2006.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Keep Your Opinions to Yourself

There are two folks in this world that don't give a snot about what you think: pregnant women and writers.

Pregnant women are constantly given unasked for advice from strangers. This is unwanted, unwelcome and basically in the category of "Just because I'm carrying a child doesn't mean that child is any of your damn business." Most of this "advice" is useless and some is even harmful.

For example, when I was pregnant one woman told me that breastfeeding would starve a baby so I would be better off giving it formula. Well, crap, someone better tell my 7yo that he died of starvation as an infant. I'd bet he'd be surprised to hear that. Though, with the way he likes to play "zombie" and/or "vampire" at any given time, I'd be hard pressed to say that he'd be disappointed with the news.

Another time, a doctor (not my OB-GYN) told me that all herbal remedies did more harm then good. Oh really? So that cup of chamomile tea I had every night that helped me sleep was actually harmful to my kid? Crap, I need to bring in my 9yo for chamomile poisoning! Call the medics!

The thing is, about pregnancy, it ends after nine months and then everyone tries to tell you how to raise your kids. This advice I either absorb or toss, but it doesn't aggravate me as much because most of the time it comes with reminisces and regrets so it's not as bad.

Still, unasked for parenting advice generally ends after eighteen years, so that, at least, ends at some point.

Advice for writers, however, never ends as long as, in some form or another, you declare yourself a writer. What amazes me though, is how they come across this advice.

"Self-publishing is the way to go!" Declared one advice-giver of forgiveable age (he was in his early 20s, and I, too was clueless at that age). When asked how come he thought that he regaled a story about how his grandmother had self-published a cookbook for the local community and raised a good amount of money for the PTA. Apparently, his idea of "self publishing" had something to do with a photocopier.

"You should write (insert whatever genre the particular speaker enjoys). You'd be so good at it." Yeah, but I damn sure don't want to spend a year on something just because I'm good at it. I would much rather write something I enjoy writing.

Which brings us to the next piece of "advice."

"You should write (insert whatever genre is "hot" at any given moment)." Uh, yeah, like by the time I could write that (assuming it's interesting in the first place), it would still be a trendy topic, and then there's the time it would take me to find an agent and the agent to find a publisher and then the lead time for publication, etc. etc. etc. In other words, I don't write what's "hot" because it more than likely won't be "hot" five years from now.

"I know...you could write my life story. It would sell millions!" Ok, and what's so fascinating about you that a million people would want to read about it? Hey, wait, I've got an idea...why don't you write it since you think it would sell a million copies and then you can turn around and say "I told you so." Meanwhile, I'll just write stuff that scares the snot out of people and go from there.

"You really shouldn't write such gruesome scenes in your stories." Ok, technically, this was "asked for" advice in that it was a critique given to me during a writing group, but still. Hellooooooooo...it's a horror story, we're known for stuff like that. To make matters worse, when I asked "Did you feel it (the particular scene she was referring to) moved the story forward?" she (the critiquer) said, "I don't know, once I got to that scene I couldn't read any further. Ugh.

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