Scary Things

Since it is Halloween, I’d thought I share one of my fears with you.

You see, I’m not scared of heights, though I am cautious of them.

Bugs, snakes and other creepy crawlies don’t give me the willies.

Ask my boys, it’s hard to sneak up on me.

So what makes me shiver and cower in fear?

What I’m afraid of isn’t a thing really.  It’s an idea.

I’m used to being a nobody. I wasn’t popular in school, and most of my  college life was spent either working or at home studying. I didn’t, and still don’t go out much. The jobs that I’ve had have never required a physical presence.  My value was in the work that I did, not in the face I presented the world.

But over the past year, that has changed.

I’ve become connected. Not in a weird Borg hive-mind-take-over-the-world kind of way; but in a“hey could you look/read over this and tell me what you think?” kind of way; or a “hey, I want you to help me do this,” kind of way.

A part of me squeaks “ME!” and wants to go run and hide. But the other part of me, the part that secretly always wanted to be included in the In Crowd screams “YES!”

So here I am, about 6 feet into the publishing pool, with water up to my eyeballs.  There are deeper waters, more challenging things out there I haven’t tried yet.  Oh I’m having fun with what I’m doing right now, don’t ever doubt that. I’m venturing out deeper a bit at a time. (For one, I’m looking forward to being an assistant editor of an anthology at some point.) This is exciting, not scary.

The thing that makes me pause is, people have started looking to me for some answers.

For instance, I had someone request that read a manuscript and tell them what I thought of it. I had never interacted with this person before.  I had to think hard before I replied. And yes, I read it, commented and sent it back. The writer agreed with my comments and was looking forward to revisions. He asked me about payment for my time. I told him to pay it forward.

Paying It Forward isn’t new.  Last week a friend of mine blogged about it. It’s a good thing to do when you can. And when you know are helping out someone who doesn’t have a lot, it is a great way to let that person “settle a debt” how they see fit.

That writer who I gave comments to?  He helped a food pantry a few weeks later.

I could have asked for money or for him to send something in payment.  I have bills to pay and things I would like to have. The bit of time I spent reading and making comments was worth something, but I hate putting a monetary figure to that kind of thing.  I felt it was better to let the writer decide how much my advice was worth.

Apparently it was worth a great deal.

Actions are like dominoes.  One move creates a wave that affects everyone and everything around it.  One action can have a positive or negative affect on the desired outcome.

So when someone asks me my opinion, I get nervous. It is very hard to say “This needs a lot of work,” to a friend or even a stranger.

For one I don’t want to alienate them.  These are friends or at least potential friends. Ripping a manuscript apart–unless this is what the author wants– just because you can, doesn’t always mean you should.  Sometimes a broad statement, and not critical line edits work much better.

Secondly, I’m not perfect.  I still need work on my own writing. When someone asks me about looking at a manuscript, I can only offer my opinion. I don’t have a degree in these things, and I still have a lot of experience to shove under my belt.  But I’ll do the best I can if you ask for my opinion.



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