Monday, July 9, 2007

Jan Guill's Good Advice

From May 2005 Writer's Digest (pg. 16)

"Be suspicious of literary advice from anyone who consistently leaves you feeling like some subspecies of dung maggot."

Jane Guill author of, Nectar from a Stone (Simon & Schuester 2005)

Dog-gone it Jane, where were you in 1992 when I submitted by work in a creative writing class at state college (a work that won a $1,000 award from a private college I previously attended -- long story, I'm sure you don't want to hear it) and this guy with a British accent (a classmate, not the instructor) told me in no simple terms that my work did not pass muster.

I told him that I was not looking to win literary accolades along the lines of Toni Morrison or anything, my aspirations were leaning more toward the Jackie Collins, pop-culture, bestselling school.

And then he said -- and I will never forget this -- "You must actually have the ability to write to even aspire to that."

Boom. That was it. I didn't write one more thing for about five years after that day.

Never mind that I had won several writing awards that helped put me through school. That I had just finished a semester writing for the school newspaper. That I had actually been published (no money involved) but, a "real" literary magazine put my work in print. Never mind that every paper that I had ever written since 7th grade received A's.

Never mind all of that . . .

The guy was 10 years older than me, he aspired to the "literary" genre, he had a British accent -- and we all know that people with British accents just sound like they know what they are talking about.

With one statement from his cultured voice, my writing career was halted for five years, until I got up the nerve to write and submit and again . . . was published.

So, all you writers, go back up to the above advice. Stamp it onto your heart, plant it into your mind and live by it . . . and please, don't be stupid -- like me.

Writing advice; writer; author; literary

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