Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Being Negative About Negativity

The world is full of negative people. Some of you wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t pointed it out to you. I can let most negativity pass by without allowing any of my feathers to lift, but sometimes it really bothers me, especially when I encounter it on writer’s forums. One forum, where I am the resident lurker, has many ‘experts’ who seem to know everything on every subject, and they are quick to point out the dangers in trying something new. One young woman was making her first attempt at poetry. They gave her the same advice you would give an adolescent if they were picking at a zit. They are especially bothered by anyone who attempts to do things where they don’t have the necessary expertise. Most of the ‘right stuff’ apparently consist of an MFA, a diploma from an art school, computer engineering, or whatever. If some amateur suggests that they might ─ just might ─ attempt something new, then the little hatchets come out and they chop at the neophytes ego until he/she is whittled down to size. During a recent discussion that skirted the boundaries of a first class flame war, I held my tongue. After the shouting was over, decided I would attempt to do what this particular writer was warned away from doing.

“No writer should attempt to design the interior of a book, and they should certainly never attempt to produce a book cover,” the sages said. I disagree rather strongly. I am in the process of revising a previously published book. Here is my first draft of the new cover I managed to produce with a software program I had never used before, in just over three hours. Not bad for a first attempt. Oh, and another thing. The next person who says you can’t do it, it’s too hard, you are too stupid - yada, yada, yada . . . You have my permission to stick your thumb in their eye. How did the ‘experts’ become experts at what they do? Some of them will imply that they were born that way, or that someone popped out of Nirvana and placed a hand on their shoulder. I’ll bet you that most of them just sat down and started to work. Don’t give up on your next story and don’t give up on designing your next book. Keep working on your dream until it has the feeling and texture of a well worn dishcloth. Whatever you want to do, just go out and do it. Why? Because I said you could.

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