I received some fallout over my last post that came out a week or two ago. It happened on the popular website Reddit and one user was particularly off put about my credentials as a writer and my ability to offer advice to others. I found this confrontation troubling for a variety of reasons and I will attempt to address them here.
First off I would like to talk about myself. I am not Jonathon Franzen, Philip Roth, or George R.R. Martin. I am a writer towards the beginning of my career and have only been in a handful of publications. All of these publications were anthologies and I was only paid for a few of them. I am a novice author and I don't claim to be an expert on writing. I am currently in talks with agents and publishers about a novel that I have completed and I am working on a second. What I do claim to be is a full-time writer, I quit my job about two months ago to pursue this with everything that I have, and I think that I might be able to help other young authors along the way.
The main thing that bothered me about the exchange with this Reddit user was the idea that only the most famous amongst us or the most visible should offer advice. I completely disagree with this premise and I will tell you why. I think all of us writers should support one another and offer advice whenever we can. As a writer I want to hear as many pointers from as many people as I possibly can. I won't demand to see someone's credentials before I listen to what they have to say. I would demand to see their credentials, however, if they were trying to sell me something or get money out of me in anyway. For this reason this blog will always remain free to view and will never have ads placed on it regardless of how anonymous or famous I happen to be.
I spend a substantial amount of time browsing through other writers blogs, post on /r/writing in Reddit, and message boards that talk about the craft of writing. While on these I try to stay abreast of what other unheralded writers are doing and both take advice and offer it where I can. I don't see where this notion of having to be famous or amazing at something in order to offer advice comes from. I will never pretend to be something that I am not and I will never offer advice in anything other than goodwill and in a spirit of help others.
The publishing industry is hard enough as it is without going at each others throats. I think we need to support other writers. That's why I try to support the industry as much as I can. I spend my hard earned money on books of famous and unknown authors alike. This industry needs to succeed if any of us hope to make a living out of this and listening to, and buying each others product, is a way to make that happen.
My dad told me long ago to never turn down free advice. You don't need to listen to all advice and you don't need to value it. But you never know along the way who you might run into and what nugget of gold you might pick up from them. For this reason I will continue to get as much advice as I can from other writers and I will continue to offer it in the hopes of helping someone else along their journey. Thanks to those of you who read and send me messages. I appreciate the support!