Monday, June 16, 2008


I am known for my intense opinions as well as my tendency to voice those opinions. Loudly. It's taken me a lifetime to learn when to keep my big mouth shut, when to speak up, and more importantly, how to speak up in a diplomatic way that doesn't end up with those involved hating my guts.

Actually, I'm still trying to learn that one. I'm still caught far too often with my foot lodged securely in my mouth.

Which is why I'm in a dilemma today.

There is an aspiring writer I know. This person has been taken under the wing of another writer in a mentor-like situation. All well and good. But some of the advice flowing from teacher to pupil is, in my never-quiet opinion, waaaaaaaay off track.

I can argue the reasons with intensity and prove my point. I drafted a short, polite (I think!) e-mail to the pupil letting them know my concern. But I haven't sent it. Probably won't.

See, it's none of my business.

It's not. It's not. It's not. I have to keep telling myself that. I've been watching this for months now, and not saying something is killing me.

But if I speak up, I'll make the teacher person look bad. I'd likely get both people mad at me, which would be . . . uncomfortable for several very big reasons. I'd end up in a nasty situation of my own making.

And yet . . . I know full well that I'm watching a train wreck in the making. If this person follows the instructions they've been given, they'll end up wasting months (if not years) of time and work in their efforts to be published.

The two facts are tearing me in two directions.

I can either put my nose into someone else's business because they're heading into a ditch (and open a giant can of squishy, angry worms I could never close again) or stay out of it (and keep the peace, but know full well that I had a chance to prevent someone from failure).

Yikes. What to do? I want to hit "send" on that e-mail. Real bad. But I think I'd better delete it.

It's none of my business. It's none of my business. It's none of my business . . .


Chillygator said...

I had a friend who was giving me bad advice (for not writing) and another friend noticed that I was taking it and pulled me aside and explained why she would do it differently and what was good about the advice I was getting and what would not be so good for me. I appreciated it because it made me think about what I wanted and whose advice would get me there. I liked it more because it was done in person so she could read my reaction to see if it was going over well or not (o:

Stephanie Black said...

Oh agony! What a dilemma. Would it be possible to talk directly to the teacher and start a discussion on the issues involved, in a non-threatening way? Maybe you could teach the teacher :)

Marcia Mickelson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Don said...

As a pathological peacemaker, I have to believe there is a solution that will work for everyone.

I don't know the situation or the advice in question, but I imagine you should be able to offer some suggestions without putting down the mentor.

If the advice given is really that far off track, then there are probably others who agree with you. Maybe you could start a "discussion" of the topic, either in person or online.

Hey, this doesn't have anything to do with Tristi telling me to write in second person future tense, does it?

Anonymous said...

Wow! That is hard. The problem I see with staying quiet is that the "student" may think you agree and be annoyed later.

Best of luck!

Karlene said...

Tough choice. If I were the pupil, I'd want you to tell me. If I were the teacher, I'd probably think I knew better than you. Which one do you like the best?

Heather Moore said...

I think you should say something--especially if this new writer is unpublished and relying heavily on this mentor. Maybe you can start the email with--"Everyone sees things differently and has his/her own opinion, but I wanted to add some advice to what you've already received. So perhaps you can meet somewhere in the middle on it . . ."

I have a writer who I helped edit a book. She was so discouraged during the process and ready to give up because someone in her family was so negative. (She's a good writer, so I felt obligated to let her know where the bear crossed the path.) I told her to stop talking about her writing with this particular person--it's hard enough to keep your chin up and send out queries without someone telling you "you can't do it".

Annette Lyon said...

Lots of great advice. I'm not sure what I'll be doing yet, although you've all convinced me I should do *something.*

Karlene, I don't know the pupil that well personally, and I interact with the mentor with relative frequency. It's a tough situation, made worse by my overly inflated opinons!

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

Owie. I'm at a loss. Wouldn't know what to do in that situation.

Stephanie Humphreys said...

As an aspiring writer myself, I hope you would say something. I'd hate to put in many extra years of work if it could be prevented. Could you backup your opinion with some references and examples?

Julie Wright said...

hit send. I'd want to know if I was being led wrongly. Of course I could and would listen with love to any advice you give since I'd know you were giving it in love. You may be opinionated, but you are one of the most loving people I know. Maybe you could talk to the mentor? I dunno. Hope it all works out. I hate to see you stressed.

Karlene said...

Hi Annette. We're home from our road trip and getting all the prizes ready for shipping. E-mail me your snail mail address. And thanks for playing.

Karlene & Megan

P.S. We still have a couple of contests going until the 19th. Come play some more. :)

Anonymous said...

Is it me? Am I the aspiring writer?


PS: Maybe you should let the train wreck happen. It will be another step in the long career of an author.

Jenna said...

I feel for you, Annette. I'm the one who would be causing trouble even though it's none of my business. I do it all the time. I wish I was a "pathological peacemaker" like Don.

Anonymous said...

hi annette -- recommend you say something. it is bugging you. it is eating at you because you want and can make it better.

peace for you, kathleen

ps. you likely won't be able to live with yourself if you keep quiet.

ps. question for you. if the student were YOU, wouldn't you want to be informed? i think you would.

ps. sometimes you gotta say something you feel strongly about, ... no matter what the consequences are .. even to self.

**hugs, you're on the right track**

Annette Lyon said...

Ly, Being as I'm not entirely sure who you are (although I have a guess), I don't know if you're a student or a mentor or a bit of both.

I'll be saying something soon. Just not sure how to approach it yet.

charrette said...

I think you need to say something. If I were in that situation, as either the teacher or the student, I would want to know.


Amazon's famous Prime Day events are huge for so many reasons, and for bookworms, it's even better: books aren't high-ticket ite...