Writing and Other Afflictions

"If it was easy, everyone would do it." –Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own"

I think you should be decisive

The lovely Nancy Nall writes about hedging your bets. She’s talking about journalism, but everyone does it. “I think the way to go is…” “I’m no expert, but…” In our workshop group, we’ve gotten eleven stories submitted so far, and six could be said to be science fiction, or at least magical realism. And yet, when people comment on them, we hear over and over, “I’m not a science fiction reader, but…” or “I’m not familiar with science fiction, but…” All this even though the piece was submitted to the workshop specifically to get their opinion! Just tell me what you think and let me judge whether it fits into the conventions of SF or not.

Nancy’s point is a good one. There are cases in which you have to qualify your opinion. I promise you that they are far fewer than you think they are. Be decisive. As my eleventh-grade English teacher said, “Who cares about being careful? We just want to be right!”

[I don’t know if he actually said that, but doesn’t it sound better to say he did? And what’s the harm?]

One response to “I think you should be decisive

  1. Gregory Hayes March 5, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    My favorite voice teacher said something similar about singing. Whether you’re sure or not of the note you’re about to sing, sing it boldly the way you think it ought to be sung. If it’s right, it will be really right. If it’s not, you’ll know what to work on for next time. [Thoroughly paraphrased.]Most people discount the value of their own opinion and are afraid of conflict. The qualifying remark is held up as a preliminary defense against a feared argument. Usually (but not always) it’s a signal that a good discussion will be difficult with the opiner, who will spend more effort equivocating than exchanging ideas.You can’t be afraid to be wrong if you want to aim for what’s right.

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