On Weddings, Whelps and Writing

This is a post that’s been brewing for a long time. It’s not aimed at most of you. In fact, it’s not intended for any of the regular readers of my blog. I want to leave this here so I can send the link to someone when they need to hear it.

And some people really need to hear it.

There are certain topics where strangers feel compelled to give unsolicited advice. Not only is their advice always unsolicited – and often unwelcome – it’s also usually crazily vehement.

The basic message is “THIS THING YOU ARE DOING. YOU MUST DO IT MY WAY.”

Most of these topics are encompassed in my title.

  • People will take you aside and tell you that when you plan your wedding, you must – absolutely must use the same colors/florist/dance mix/budget/hairdoohicky/philosophy that they did.
  • People will give you crazypants parenting advice about how to give your kid a snack / discipline little Johnny on the playground / hover uncontrollably when you’re trying to give the kid a little room.  This version starts with pregnancy, and I don’t think it ever ever ends. (The other version of the weird whelping advice comes with the “I don’t want kids” conversation or the “I love my stepkid” convo – wherein people tell you that you are insane and that you’d understand better if you would just conform and get pregnant ASAP.)
  • People will also do this insane shoving of doctrine upon you if you’re a writer and decide you’d like to see a novel you wrote put onto bound pieces of paper with a price tag attached.  Self-publish? You are a fool.  Querying Agents? Hidebound and wasting time.

What most of these messages amount to is this:

This thing you’re doing, I did it, too. And I thought a lot about it. I really put my heart and soul into this terrible series of ongoing decisions, and faced these trials.  I committed to doing it the way that I determined was the best way for me.

Which is fine.

The problems come in when they forget that we other capable, thinking human beings have thought through an agonizing decision or two ourselves. We’ve put our hearts and souls into deciding what’s right for us. And we have been facing that ongoing series of decisions and trials.

The problems come in when these unsolicited-advice-givers can only see the rightness of the decision they made. They can’t see that their decision might not be at all valid for me.  They add one more sentence to the lines above.

What was the best way for me is obviously the only option for you.

This is the part I have a problem with. You can’t demand that other people validate your decisions.

So, I’m leaving this here. The next time someone tells me I am wasting time querying agents and should self-publish, I’m going to give them this link. And I’m going to say this:  Please respect that I’ve made the best decision for me. 

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3 thoughts on “On Weddings, Whelps and Writing

  1. In addition to linking here when people suggest you self-publish instead of querying an agent, I might link here myself when people tell me I should publish traditionally instead of self-publishing. I don’t like the pressure and disdain I get from a lot of people, for exactly the same reasons you listed above. They don’t seem to think I can figure out what’s best for me (and I did, indeed, spend a solid year and a half researching both paths and debating on the right one for me before I finally decided).

    • YES. That’s exactly the idea I had for this post. Just a “what’s right for you may not be right for me” kinda thing with a dash of “You’re being weird and pushy.”

  2. Agreed! I appreciate that people want to be helpful, but everyone’s situation and motivations are a unique cocktail. I’m also tired of suggestions that I self-publish, and I’m tired of trying not to sound like a closed-minded snob when I explain that I want to do things my way.

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