I'm a very good listener, I'm patient, and I'm interested in seeing beginning writers succeed. In consequence, I spend much of my time at conventions and writers' conferences leaned up against a convenient wall or doorframe, listening to the dreams and aspirations and tales of woe and book descriptions of unpublished or rarely published writers. These writers usually want a listener more than anything, so mostly I just listen. But from time to time, a hopeful writer will ask my advice. I always take my time, give the question my full attention, and try to offer the best answer I can, based on my experience and what I know of the markets and the industry.
About two thirds of the time, my questioner's immediate response starts off with, "But I can't do that because . . ."
At which point, I'm out of the conversation. I'm starting to look for a quick exit and just about any exit will do. It isn't that I think my advice would turn this writer into an overnight success, or even necessarily get his or her manuscript looked at; it isn't that the writer has hurt my feelings by ignoring me (you don't get this far in the business without developing a pretty tough hide).
The problem with people who say "But . . ." is that they have already decided that they know everything they need to know about writing. They may be chatting me up in the hopes of networking, or because they want me to tell them that theirs is the most brilliant idea I've ever heard. But they aren't interested in getting published. And they aren't going to get published.
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