There is an interesting phenomenon that takes place when a wannabe author gets published and creates a little buzz. People come out of the woodwork asking for advice on just about every topic associated with writing. Some want creative advice, others are looking for technical instruction, some want to learn how to get an agent, many want to know the “secret” to getting published, but the most popular request is asking an author to read an aspiring writer’s work and offering objective feedback.
I’m sure there are lots of authors who consider this a nuisance because free time is a rare commodity for a writer. But, as busy as I am, I try to find time to help a fellow writer in any way I can. If sales numbers and recognition measure an author’s success, I am nowhere near successful. However, this is not my first ride on the turnip wagon, so I believe I am somewhat qualified to offer reliable feedback based on my credentials. Not that I’m the quintessential authority on the literary value of anyone’s work, but my opinion is based on years of experience with the written word.
What pains me, what absolutely ruins my day is when I have to tell a writer that their work just doesn’t measure up, nor does it have commercial potential in its current condition. It’s not an easy task to pull the rug out from someone who’s spent countless hours trying to craft the next New York Times bestseller. Even for a master novelist, it takes a great deal of time before they can enjoy the privilege of writing “The End.”
I, of course, try to be as gentle and encouraging as I can. Some up and coming writers have raw talent from a creative standpoint, but just need to learn the technical tricks of the trade and apply them to their work. No one can teach a writer how to be creative. It’s a God-given gift. It’s just like being a painter. If you have the ability to paint beautiful pictures, you can improve your techniques with training. But if you don’t have a way with the brush, you’re never going to have it. Creativity cannot be taught.
I can’t even begin to tell you how painful it is to burst someone’s bubble and shatter his or her dreams. In spite of this, I will continue to offer as much advice and assistance as I can. Because once in a while, I find a diamond in the rough, and nothing is more satisfying than watching a writer blossom from promise to full potential.