You may know the brilliant
children’s book series IF YOU GIVE A
MOUSE A COOKIE. This post is not about that if, but about the inevitable creative friends you have (I sure do) whose
output you are aware of.
My personal experience
is on both sides of this aisle. I’m one who writes and the mother of a
performer and the sister of another. I’m an audience member and art-lover.I’ve read plenty on writers and
illustrators’ chat boards and heard even more in personal interactions.
This post is about
how well-meaning friends and relations manage to inadvertently stick daggers
into the creative bubbles. It’s one thing if they intend to, but this is about
the unintended insults born of (let’s be generous here) ignorance.
The most common
ones are going into the list below. Feel free, in the service of enlightenment,
to add in the comments.
The first one is
the biggiest of biggies.
*Don’t ask to read/see/listen to your friends’ creative work
and then say nothing. If you can give constructive criticism, that is helpful.
You can always couch it with what you genuinely thought worked. But saying
nothing is the worst. If you really thought it was not good, say something, and
don’t ask again. One writer I know said a relative walked over to tell him she had read his book. Then, you guessed it, nothing.
Relative changed the subject.
Don’t. Do. That.
*Don’t offer advice about something you know less than
little about. A writer on a chat-board lamented her husband told her she should
“storm the acquisitions meeting” at a publisher, after her agent told her the
manuscript was going to acquisitions that Tuesday. Maybe in husband’s business
this is done, (doubtful) but a more likely explanation for this sort of advice
came from seeing movies or reading “take charge of your life” silly how-to
books. Similar nonsense advice is to pester published writers for “their
connections.” This is how corporate America works, but not fine publishing.
*Be fair and accept that
if you don’t like something, someone else might like it. Creative output appreciation
is subjective. Professional reviewers ignore this stance, as they must convey
confidence and the illusion their assessments are objective. They are paid to
believe this and make us believe. Don’t. Be. That.
Reading the above,
it is tempting to never ask to see or hear others’ work. But if you’re genuinely
interested and your creative asked for your advice, be a good friend and do
the best you can. If you know you can’t, be a good friend and say you can’t.
My Beta readers
are the bestestand I try to be half as
good to my friends as they are to me.
Beware of branding, for it may come back to burn you. CORONA, once just a Latin word for crown and a nice sounding one at that,
is now *the global enemy* to be vanquished. But remnants of its old
glory branding days are everywhere.
And in case
writers, ever sensitive to words, want to forget about it~~~
The Skype/Zoom form of communication was
once a novelty, and then a secondary way of conducting business. COVID-19 made
it the primary way.
My kids, generation
Z/ Millennial, use text for “not in the mood or place to be seen” exchanges,
and faceTime/Skype/Zoom for “let’s hang out” times.It never seems a consideration to use the
phone the way we did, for voice only. To be fair, until Email that’s all we had for instant
But having to stare at a screen and having it stare back at you for hours on end during these times
of minimized in-person connectivity has brought about a kind of screen fatigue.
Young’uns, as well
as us old fogies, are using the phone to call and talk, no screens. I didn’t think I’d see that again.
Other strange rollback
is the minimization of using public transportation. That was the hip/environmentally
correct way to go only a year ago. Now it’s best to drive the family car and
better be in it alone, sans family. One car to a person? The horror.
And remember the
reusable grocery bag? That was the conscientious way to go. Now it isn’t
allowed. So if you walked to the store, just let them give you those darned
disposables to take your food back home.
But of all these
things, it’s the sight of young adults using the phone in voice-only mode, which
makes me think I went to sleep and woke up in 1990.
I wonder how to
reflect all of these^ in my current WIP.