Paying It Forward, Paying it Back, Using Your Leverage

As the year comes to an end, I’ve been thinking about leverage, which I talk about in Booklife. But in Booklife, while I have a separate section on paying it forward and contributing to community, I’m not sure I fully tie the idea of leverage to the idea of paying it forward.

Your writerly “leverage,” as I define it, is a kind of political capital. You can amass it based on your visibility through your online presence and your books, published short stories, etc. It consists of intangibles beyond audience, too. The respect and affection others have for you affects your leverage–how people perceive you as both writer and human being.

You use leverage to make your projects, your books, successful–leverage breeds leverage–but it serves, or should serve, another purpose. You should use your leverage (or position or privilege) to be of use to other people in the writing community (or even outside of it). No matter what level you’re at, there’s something you can do to help someone else.

I’ve met writers who hoard leverage or privilege, who feel that concealing their contacts, masking their methodology, building closed cliques, ignoring talented people who ask for help, is the best way of helping their careers.

Maybe this is true in the short term, but the fact is the best way to build leverage long-term is to be open and useful to others–as much as you can be without disrupting your own time for writing and other creative endeavor.

Paying it forward, contributing to community, can at times be controversial or uncomfortable or actually cause you to lose prestige or respect temporarily. The whole point, at times, of using your position is to expend it like rocket fuel–in a short burst that is of immeasurable value to someone else.

I think about this, too, because sometimes people get into positions of power by being miserly with their leverage…and never realize that they’ve reached a position where they can afford to take a stand, be publicly controversial for the greater good. And so they don’t.

Whatever level you’re at now, don’t be that person. If you die without calling in all your markers, for others, for yourself…you lose.

What I’m saying is this: whether you’re a writer with one published story or a writer with twenty novels out, you have some leverage. What you can do might be tiny in scope, but might mean a lot to someone.

As we enter 2010, in a perilous publishing atmosphere, with a lot of uncertainty ahead, we should all be thinking of about not just ourselves but others. Trust me when I say the more connectivity you build, the more good works you foster, on whatever level, the more you, too, will benefit in the long run.

This is a rare cross-post to

43 comments on “Paying It Forward, Paying it Back, Using Your Leverage

  1. I agree, and raise a toast to paying it forward and the sentiment expressed.

  2. Kater says:

    I read a book recently called _Connected_ which talked about social capital. I may be paraphrasing inaccurately, but I believe the authors postulated that among politicians, for example, those who had the most power were those who were most likely to cosign on others’ bills. You get farther not by being on the top of a pyramid, but by being at the center of a web.

  3. Agree also. Its always neccesary to be strategic in how you deploy your leverage / political capital / influence / power or however you choose to phrase it. But simply hoarding it is never particularly effective…not least because it is ethically wrong.But I think its valid to expend your leverage on supporting things you believe in…writers you like, movements you feel akin to etc etc. Whats less appealing is one people use their leverage to attack things they don’t appreciate. Interesting topic for further thought.

  4. jeff vandermeer says:

    Kater–nice. Damien–sometimes expending leverage is going to seem negative, though, and that can also be valid. It may not seem “nice”, it may seem argumentative, but it can be necessary.

  5. Tia Nevitt says:

    As an unpublished author who has achieved some small measure of blogging success, I’ve met many authors online. I’ve formed lasting connections with some of them, but I sense fear out of most of them. I get a bit of pushback when they discover that I’m a writer, myself. Maybe they’re afraid I’m going to ask them for something. Therefore, I rarely bring it up. I don’t want people to think I’m forming connections with them in order to get anything out of them.

    In very rare instances, authors have asked me about my writing when they’ve read my bio. Such authors will always be memorable to me.

  6. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Tia–I think it is true that some writers get inundated with requests. I just got a flood of requests in my hotmail since I posted this blog entry. There are hierarchies of help, too. Just by way of example: Getting a book published should first and foremost be a process of finding an agent and if not able to find an agent approaching publishers directly. Asking an established writer to help you find a publisher is a pretty big favor, and something that can be a huge imposition. Asking an established writer, who you think matches up well re your approach to writing and career, who their agent is and would they recommend their agent as a good agent…that’s a small favor. (Note I did not say “asking an established writer to recommend you to their agent.”)

    Same thing with requests for stories and whatnot. Like, if someone comes to me saying “I’d like to reprint ‘Secret Life’ in my anthology XYZ,” that’s a lot easier to deal with than someone coming to me and saying, “I’d like to reprint one of your stories. Send me something.” A targeted focus is much easier for everyone involved, really.

    It also helps to approach someone through someone they know and trust rather than directly.

    I know this doesn’t apply to your comment directly, Tia. It’s just something I thought of because of it.

  7. Marty Stephenson says:

    I’ve sought insight from several authors who we’re, dare I say, fearful of inviting others to the party. Jeff, thanks for being so very approachable, open and honest about what it takes to be a writer and the process in general. Thanks.

  8. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    re my prior comment…but I was really talking in my post about proactively seeking out opportunities to be of use, not reactively responding to what amount to queries or communiques.

  9. Sam says:

    “Same thing with requests for stories and whatnot. Like, if someone comes to me saying “I’d like to reprint ‘Secret Life’ in my anthology XYZ,” that’s a lot easier to deal with than someone coming to me and saying, “I’d like to reprint one of your stories. Send me something.” A targeted focus is much easier for everyone involved, really.”

    Perhaps in other words: “When asking a favor make it as easy as possible for the person to actually help you.” Instead of my usual modus operandi of making it as hard as possible for somebody to do me a favor. Hm! You learn something new every day.

  10. I’m not as familiar with authors in the adult marketplace, but I can tell you from experience (personally “paying it” both ways) that almost to a one children’s (inc. YA) writers and illustrators are quite willing to help one another. Just spend some time on Twitter paying attention to some of us. “Hoarding” and competing really helps no one. Now if someone I don’t know at all asked me to recommend them to my agent, I’d be kind of put off. But I have recommended writers who I’ve seen grow their craft into something I consider publishable to agents who I know and think might be right for the writer. If that writer publishes, hurray.

  11. Nila says:

    I am not sure if I have any leverage, but I do say yes a lot when be need information I have or a voice for social injustice. A long time ago I realized I could not afraid to share positive solutions to difficult issues. Often there are times when so many people are saying “things” among themselves that they don’t share with others who can make a difference. As a journalist and the mother of two teenage boys with significant disabilities, I am certain that not only do I have to speak and write the truth, but build alliances based on respect and common goals. Often policticians seek to stay in office and align themselves for re-election. Who would have ever thought that standing up for the rights of people with disabilities who want to live in the community would worry a politician about their chances for re-election? Yes it’s true because there is a price tag attached to this issue. Basically, you or I may have leverage and sharing it with those you ask for it is easy and a win-win is so many ways. However, when you try to use your leverage for something that could be considered controversial you have to be strong and have courage to do what it right and not give up.

  12. jeff vandermeer says:

    good comment. I do believe though that even controversial stands gain you allies, although that doesn’t mean it’s any easier on the front end in making the stand. people who never take a stand, never risk, don’t really get either part of that.

  13. Marty Stephenson says:

    “not reactively responding to what amount to queries or communiques.”

    In my ‘seeking insight’ – I should clarify – looking for (rather than sending a query or communique) some insight to the craft. I’d never blame a professional writer for not responding to ‘how should I’s’ – I wouldn’t bother to send one, but ‘Booklife’ and King’s ‘On Writing’ stand out as professional help in a field where it’s often not offered by those in the know.

  14. I’ve been overwhelmed by the encouragement and ridiculous generosity I’ve received from other writers, which has opened not just doors but gateways to interesting places I may not have ventured on my own (just yet). It’s been humbling and gratifying. In the meantime, I’m trying to put together a project of specially commissioned primary school picture books for the charity group for struggling second-language English-speaker South African kids, designed to be relevant to their lives while still bringing in some creativity and imagination (Old Mother Hubbard isn’t cutting it).

  15. Rachel Swirsky says:

    “I’d like to reprint ‘Secret Life’ in my anthology XYZ,” that’s a lot easier to deal with than someone coming to me and saying, “I’d like to reprint one of your stories. Send me something.” A targeted focus is much easier for everyone involved, really.”

    Heh, I’ve done that to you. Sorry for the inconvenience!

  16. Hellbound Heart says:

    i may not be a writer, but what you’ve written here has made me reflect on the leverage that i possess as a teacher……

    peace and love……..

  17. Hey Jeff,

    I think writers have to be supremely careful if they deploy their leverage negatively. It isn’t just a matter of generating a poor response from the community, any kind of negativity is deeply off putting to readers. Especially genre readers, who are often seeking to escape the kind of negative pressures that they deal with in every day life. To the extent that, as you say, any use of leverage can be off putting to more sensitive readers. But I can certainly think of writers at all levels who have done themselves permanent damage by using their leverage negatively. I think the key thing I’m thinking of are writers who take a negative line on a given issue because it generates some easy publicity. In the short term that might raise the writers profile, but in the long term it establishes them as someone readers might not trust enough to read.

    Any way, just some thoughts.



  18. One specifically blog-related way to pay forward that I have used is to give free ads on my blog to writers whose books needed help. You don’t have to be a professional writer to do this.

  19. Damien, the most obvious example of someone who has done what you are talking about is Bruce Sterling. Poor fellow came to a terrible end!

  20. jeff vandermeer says:

    Damien: I think you and I may be talking about two different things. But I also know that you personally are cautious, and that’s fine–you’re a new writer, you have one major platform, etc.,–but the problem is that without sometimes energetic and even argumentative discussion certain issues can’t get a full airing. I most certainly do not recommend flame wars, nor does Booklife. But what I am trying to say is that frank discourse and voicing a negative opinion are sometimes important. (If such an approach doesn’t match your personality, that’s perfectly fine. Everyone’s different.)

    I would not recommend the approach for most new writers in part because they have less leverage and in part because they have less authority when they speak and then it does seem like a PR ploy. Which can have negative affects on a career.

    And, for the record, adopting that kind of approach just for attention as opposed to out of a deep seated conviction or sense of what’s fair is reprehensible. But so to my mind is, if you have the leverage, not speaking out.

    And the truth is…most readers, genre and otherwise, do not read any of these discussions or frequent these watering holes.

    But without a specific example, Damien, I can’t tell if we’re talking about the same thing anyway.

  21. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Also, my post is also not really about this one somewhat rare subset of paying it forward.

  22. I certainly agree with the focus of your article (I’ve lived it in the general science-fiction world) but there’s one thing I’d strongly disagree with: your sentence “If you die without calling in all your markers, for others, for yourself…you lose.”

    “Social capital” is a maleficent metaphor in some ways, because most of us treat economics as a zero-sum game. You’re trying to say it’s not a zero-sum game — but when you put things in terms of “win” and “lose”, you’re falling into that mentality. I expect to have hundreds of markers available when I die, in part because I’ve spent my life building them up by spending them. (Almost) every time I help someone, we both get a marker. And when I call in a favor — we both gain, if I’m doing it well.

    This doesn’t include doing damage to myself in order to do good for another, of course.

    Have you read Delany’s second essay in Times Square Red, Times Square Blue? It’s the flip side of this discussion, about why networking with the intent of getting ahead is unlikely to work. I think you’d find it interesting.

  23. jeff vandermeer says:

    I am not falling into that game so much as still searching for the best way to express an idea. No one dies with zero markers. But the idea of thinking of leverage as a way to be of use is…well, useful, I think.

    I have read Delany’s essay. I would like to think he’s right, but I know of examples that prove he’s wrong, at least in part. You can cynically game the system to some extent, alas.

    I use each networking cycle for a book as a way to learn about others, form creative alliances, collabs, etc. In part because it leads me in interesting new directions but also because just telling someone about your book is boring.

    This conversation is taking on some fascinating dimensions. Thanks!

  24. Agree that leverage is a very useful metaphor here. And Delany doesn’t deny that that kind of networking works occasionally — but then, some people actually win on the state lotteries. Doesn’t mean it’s the smart way to bet.

    And Delany’s flip side to networking, contact, does exactly the kind of network building that I think you’re talking about. (What he missed that separates the two, IMO, is intent — networking is intended to get me ahead, contact is intended to find out who the other person is — but that’s a whole other discussion!)

    I came here from Making Light, by the way.

  25. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    I think we have a different definition of “leverage”. I don’t see it as a cynical term, but I’m also equating it with “political capital” or even possibly “visibility” or, heck, “public life force.” Whatever term works is fine with me.

    Some people think of “contact” or “contacts” as a term just as possibly cynical as “networking.” I think we agree that regardless of terminology, the Delany idea of “contact” is the operative one here, and it’s what I connect to “leverage” in this context.

    In the social media age, I think the intent can be two-fold without being cynical.

    But I’d also say that this discussion, and it’s very interesting, is a little bit off of the main topic of the post. Because I was talking generally, in a lot of different contexts, of being of use.

    I’d say Damien’s definition of being of use–and not harming yourself–is slightly different than mine, for example, and that provides a useful model. It’s definitely not necessary to be confrontational to be of use. Activism of that kind is just a small part of what I was initially talking about. There are also people like China Mieville who use their leverage in totally different arenas at times and who express their activism in the field not by engaging but through expressing their opinions in interviews, etc. Each person chooses their level of engagement.

    Main thing is not to be acting or not acting out of fear of what might possibly happen as a result, but also to be smart about picking your public battles, if you have to have some. What do others stand to gain by your approach? If nothing, and it’s just for your own ego, then…maybe it’s not a good idea.


  26. I wasn’t wanting to use “leverage” cynically either! I think our definitions (and our objectives here) are quite similar, and I’m just being a less-expert communicator than you are. It’s quite all right to feel good about who one gets to meet: I managed to put together two friends (Danny Carnahan and Henry Kaiser) who ended up making some superb music together. The leverage out of that was far beyond anything I could have done myself, musically. And an acquaintance once asked me who he should visit in London, and that resulted in a deep friendship between unlikely people, which means that each of those people now “owe” me for the contact and I can send other people in their direction if I think it’ll be mutually beneficial. Absolutely yes that people use their leverage differently, and their power. I think in general though that *not* acting because one is afraid of the potential result is much more likely to cause problems.

    The more public a person is, the more likely s/he will end up having some public battles. Sometimes they come looking for me. And the last two sentences of your last ‘graph there — words for engraving in large letters.

  27. jeff vandermeer says:

    That all makes sense, Tom. I totally agree. There’s no ledger, there’s no treating people like a series of favors you withdraw or that you give.

    I must admit to have just gotten a very depressing email from someone who should know better claiming I am advocating treating people as binary symbols who can either do you favors or not. Sigh. No, the post is about being of use and using whatever good will or whatever one wants to call it that people have toward you in a positive way.

  28. “Main thing is not to be acting or not acting out of fear of what might possibly happen as a result, but also to be smart about picking your public battles, if you have to have some.”

    Quoting for truth. This—not acting out of fear—is what keeps my blog quiet of late. It’s also what I’m aiming to overcome in 2010, as I write more with the goal of sharing positively, for the sake of making myself simultaneously useful and valuable, if I can. But the notion of not acting out of fear, as you say, is a vital but slippery one. Fear isn’t a great reason to act or to withhold action; other factors like mutual benefit, or the doing of good, should be considered above fear. It’s useful to identify where the fear comes from—fear of consequences, fear of failure, fear of fecklessness—and use it to determine right action, rather than to determine action versus no action. Why you act does matter, and goes a long way toward earning leverage.

    I say this in part to remind myself and in part to agree with you. I find that I’m afraid to use leverage because I believe I’ll never get any back, and because I fear being hated by those who would disagree with me. Your post is a fine kick in the pants, however, to remind me: It’s not about having markers, it’s about using them to do some good.

  29. Jeff: Great points overall. I’m a big fan of paying it forward, even though I also hate that term (which makes generosity and helping others sound so self-centered and self-satisfying–it’s the term that rubs so many people the wrong way, not the action itself). Many people have helped me over the years in all aspects of my life, so the natural thing for me to do is help people back. Does this mean I can help everyone, or that I let people take advantage of me? No. But I do what I can. That’s all any of us can do.

    I also agree with not letting fear keep you from taking a stand on controversial issues. The trick, though, is to not continually jump from flame war to flame war like a talk radio host on speed. Know what issues and concerns matter most to you and the world, and focus on them. In many ways this is similar to how we function as writers. It is not possible to write every single story idea which pops into our heads. Instead, we pick and choose which stories we will write, making choices based on our values, ideals, loves, and emotions. The same should be applied to the stands we take. To do otherwise is to spread yourself so thin that you risk never accomplishing anything worthwhile.

  30. Jeff, I really like your post and would have replied at greater length, except that we were in the process of hauling 5,000 books today. (Now the 16 ft truck is empty, so I can write more.)

    In editing anthologies, you get used to giving away your leverage, get used to using your influence to promote others. You do it without expecting anything in return (other than your advance and royalties, which may not amount to much) except maybe a store of good karma. The idea of using your leverage for the benefit of others is obvious in that context, although perhaps not obvious to people who don’t do anthologies.

    I’m sorry to hear that some people aren’t understanding what you are getting at.

    One minor point: I am hard-pressed to think of examples of people hoarding leverage. Some writers are more helpful to their peers than others. The only example of someone practicing what might be called “hoarding” influence I can think of is Ursula Le Guin, who imposed specific limitations on what galleys she would read for comment. (This was during the time I worked for her agent, 20 years ago. I don’t know if she still does this.) Specifically, she would read only books by women writers early in their careers. It seems to me that she was not so much “hoarding” as giving a laser-like focus to her forward payment.

    Jeff, maybe you have had different conversations with writers than I have, but perhaps what you perceive as people deliberately hoarding influence and leverage may be writers trying to set limits with publishers who send them too many books for quote. Certain extremely generous writers of the past were known as “quote-horses” who would quote on everything sent. Publishers will abuse this.

  31. Great post. I was taught a similar lesson at a writer’s workshop called Viable Paradise. I was in a class taught by Steven Gould on a similar topic, i.e. working within a community, and his main point was this: Don’t be an asshole.

    It was great advice for new writers. I think your advice, “be nice” is an excellent next step. It’s certainly true that being nice to people can help you in any career. It also has the added benefit that if, god forbid, your writing career should fail, that’s to say that if a decade has gone by and you’re still not getting anything published, you have something else that might just be even better than a book deal. You might have made friends, and you might have been useful to people.

    Who knows, maybe there is someone else who does have a great writing career, and it was your help at the beginning, your kind words of support, your introductions to the right people, your insightful comments, that made the difference. It might sound like the booby prize, but in my experience having friends and being useful is pretty nice.

    There are intangible rewards to being a useful, helpful member of a community. That’s one thing I really love about SF writers and fans. There is a warmth and kindness and community, and great writing.

  32. David Harmon says:

    Tom & Jeff re: “cynical” words: Remember that a cynic is just a frustrated idealist!

  33. jeff vandermeer says:

    Kathryn: That’s a great way to sum up an anthologist’s view–agree entirely.

    I would add the word “rarely” or “not that often” to the hoarding depiction in the post and should have added that many writers have to protect themselves from paying it forward when that would take the form of answering possibly hundreds of emails a week, as in the case of Neil Gaiman.

    That said, I have had moments of astonishment in situations where that kind of hoarding or miserly-ness occurs without there being any benefit to the writer in question. But it is rare, I agree. So maybe it’s more a case of wanting to say to new writers that being generous to others in the field in no way impedes their own success.

    I am very pleased and happy about the comments on this post and might include some of the conversation in a future edition of Booklife (would contact individuals for their approval first).

  34. jeff vandermeer says:

    I am grateful for the comments in part, too, because they help me remember what’s important. it’s one thing to say it. it’s another to remember to do it. and that includes damien’s comment–in that the other point about not going from flame war to flame war is important. then you’re just a nut.

  35. jeff vandermeer says:

    I should note I am not referencing stingy behavior toward *me* but by others toward others. And we are talking a lot about reactive paying it forward here as opposed to proactive, which is seizing an opportunity to be of help before help is asked for.

  36. I think transparency and leverage are an important feature in helping build your fanbase. It’s one thing to lock certain features of your professional career behind doors, and quite another to give someone a step up if they need it.

    I’ll say one thing…I quit reading Goodkind after I saw the way he treated some of his fans and commenters on his website. While I’m only one person, and the guy still makes a healthy 6 figures from the many thousands of fans of his series, he developed a serious ego (IMO) after his series stayed on the NYT list for so long, and made a slew of comments about how “I don’t see other fantasy authors with this much time on the NYT list” and my personal favorite, “I’m the best thing to happen to the fantasy genre.”

    That ego led him to some of the most arrogant and rude dealings with fans I have ever seen.

    Meanwhile, while I never met the guy, Zelazny was well-known for always taking the time to reach out to his fans and fellow writers. Almost everyone I’ve ever talked with or met who had the chance to deal with Zelazny speaks of how he was incredibly open, incredibly well-liked, and always had time for people. IMO, that’s how you establish a great fan-base…by always being willing to help, even if it means taking time out of your day.

    Now, with that being said…I can see how it’s an impossibility with people like Neil Gaiman. At some point celebrity status brings with it a certain measure of wall-building. If you don’t build up those walls you won’t have time to pursue your career. I’d be willing to guesstimate that his fan-mail is probably more likely in the thousands-per-week (as well as queries from other writers seeking a leg up), and at some point you have to say…enough is enough.

    But if you aren’t some crazily-famous person like Gaiman or Stephen King or J.K. Rowling…then I think it behooves you (as an artist/writer) to stay in touch with your fans. I was speaking with my wife a couple of years ago about how much the world of blogging has changed the way writers are allowed to interact with their fans/fellow writers. It used to be everything was closed off by the pre-Internet world, but now…blogs and websites are a great way to allow a more personal touch, a way to reach out and guide/help others without having to dedicate too much of your time to it.

    True, there are some things you just don’t do/give out, because it’s professional suicide. For example, if I remember correctly it was Stackpole who mentioned on his site that the reason he won’t read other writer’s manuscripts is because it’s too open for lawsuits. These days, with so many people writing so much stuff that is similar to other people’s works, it’s simply ripe for manipulation. You could find yourself in a situation where you’ve read someone’s work and 15 years later you write something that is borderline similar…and suddenly that person is back with a lawsuit claiming you stole their idea/concept.

    So while it’s one thing to be asked if you would recommend your agent (I personally think that’s totally acceptable) it’s another thing for someone to ask you if you would put a good word in for them with your agent. The first is just “helping out” by using your leverage, while the other can lead to some rather serious repercussions if things don’t work out.

  37. @T W ANderson – I was privileged to meet Roger Zelazny literally months before he died – even to be a part of a writing workshop which he presided over as a GoH to a con that I went to pretty much mostly because he was GoH – and I can vouch for his manner and his attitudes towards us young’uns who were all still climbing to the light. At no time did he treat us as importuning wannabes or annoying aspiring twitts who didn’t know any better – he was honest, but he was courteous, he was dignified, and he left me with a legacy of his blessing on my work which I will treasure all my days.

    I’ve since met a lot of writers in the SF/F genre who are like this. I’ve met one or two of the OTHER kind, too, of course, one can’t not in this industry, not everybody has halos at every moment of their lives and sometimes the writer gets trapped by success and sometimes just by an illusion of success and then it’s a train wreck… but on the whole – I can’t speak for other genres but in mine, in THIS one – most more-or-less established writers tend to be intensely supportive of those who are coming up after them, climbing the ladder in their wake as it were. And I think that’s pretty wonderful.

    I try to do the same. I do workshops at cons, and yes, I did get the dreaded “can you introduce me to your agent” question from one clueless newbie (which I had to decline because this particular writer wasn’t yet ready for an agent…) but on the whole I find that it’s all taken in the spirit in which it is offered. In spite of some writers (those who don’t think they’re getting to where they think they ought to be as fast as they think they ought to be getting there) who insist that there’s GOTTA be a secret handshake the secret of which is being kept from them else they’d be PUBLISHED by now, dontcha know, I think that writers all along this chain are aware that if they’ve had some sort of helping hand from ABOVE them then they owe at least one such helping hand down in the other direction once they are in a position to do this. And I think this is a good thing…

  38. @ Alma: Awesome tale about Zelazny. To this day he remains one of my favorite authors (definitely in my top 5), and I quote often curse the fact that I was never able to meet the man, mostly because I was only 15 when he passed. But the thing that has always struck me is that every single person I’ve ever spoke to, met, or read about says nothing but amazing things about him. To me, that is the sign of a true professional, a man that everyone loves, that no one dislikes, and who inspires through sheer presence.

    Keeping in mind that I’m just now beginning to scratch the surface of my fiction career, one thing I’ve noticed in my freelance career as I’ve worked my way up the ladder is that more and more I am approached by people who want freebies. I’m sure it’s far worse for those of you who have been in the industry for umpteen years. I’ve only been freelancing for two, and I get several per month asking me to give them a handout. Now, I’m not against helping people, but I keep falling back on that old saying about “you can only help those who want to help themselves”. There’s nothing wrong with giving a guiding hand if the person in question is motivated enough and on the right track, but it does everyone a disservice if you boost someone up who isn’t ready for the responsibility yet.

    So in my mind, I’d love to help everyone I can, but you also have to draw a line at some point. Of course, that point is different for every individual out there. For me, I have a very “can do” attitude. I didn’t get where I am today by relying on handouts from other people, and I kind of take offense when someone expects me to just give them a freebie. Perhaps I’ll adjust to it over time, but I think continually being plagued for requests to “read my story plz”, “introduce me to your agent plz” and otherwise would drive me nuts :)

    I guess I’ll have to see when I get to that point. For now, I only deal with a few per month, and it relates to “could you help me in my freelance career”. Not entirely the same as fiction, but in the same vein. I don’t think some people understand how consultations work….

  39. ~ says:

    Speaking for the unwashed mass’s.
    It’s nice to know there’s
    someone like you out there.
    (+1 internet, for not using whuffie)

  40. For me, your words are timely and true. I belong to a large, productive writers’ workshop. One of the most wonderful things I’ve experienced is the strong camaraderie and collective goodwill of the group. The more experienced published writers give advice and encouragement to the novices. It’s all relative, anyway. There is always someone in a position to help you and also someone you may help. Goodwill is karmic capital, I say.

  41. I really like this website. Iwish we could come here everyday\all day. Please do keep posting more info!

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