There are lots of people in this world who will give you advice about your writing (whether you want them to or not), and this isn’t always a bad thing. Occasionally you meet someone who really knows his stuff and he’ll shell out jewels like he’s been cursed with rubies in his mouth. I had a teacher like that – Professor Fritzell. He’s retired now, which means that scores of young people will never get the chance to meet his red pen. That, I can assure you, is a tragedy. Seriously.
Of course, then there are the other know-it-alls, most often people in high or somewhat impressive places, who will act like they know what they’re doing – who will tell you they know what they’re doing – and who will screw you up so far past morning that you’ll be running circles around the sun for the rest of your life. I had teachers like this, too. Fortunately, I read a lot , and my little bird brain eventually decided to take the advice I found in the stories themselves – as opposed to the words and whistles of the men and women standing at the head of the class, telling me that ”said is a dead word” and “fantasy and science fiction is fine, but it’s not real,” and really, it’s okay to put ”however at the beginning of a sentence, instead of embedding it.”
Yeah, whatever. Actually, in case you don’t know, it really is a boo-boo of the English language to use “however” at the beginning of a sentence. It’s the kind of thing English departments test their professors for when hiring; a common mistake, but if you make it, you don’t get the job (now watch me get hammered by English professors for that).
But anyway, the point of all this is pick and choose the advice that people give you. Don’t take it on blind faith, but on the other hand, don’t be so in love with yourself that you don’t take any advice at all. And if you do find a teacher who is really, really, good, then by God, go and learn. Don’t be shy.
(This latest post brought to you and inspired by another of PBW’s witty entries, which is quite true and deliciously sarcastic. Check out the comments for more jewels)
Before I sign off, yet another WFC photo, taken by Dan Hoyt, husband to Sarah Hoyt, who is standing on the other side of Dave Freer. Wonderful writers, wonderful people. Sarah is working on a mystery series about the three Musketeers that I’m really looking forward to.