Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I Smell An Opinion

I really wanted to call this post, "she who speaks loudest often looks like an ass," but that just seemed a bit rude. (and yet, I said it anyway) Also, it's true. Recently, it's particularly true, or at least, I've been noticing a lot more of it than usual. Stinky opinions, I mean. Confusion of what is fact, and what is just a wild-ass guess.

In my son's literature class, we are working on how to recognize the difference between a fact and an opinion. It's pretty easy. I mean, he's in the first grade. A lot of opinion had been presented as fact these days, however, and it's leading to some pretty embarrassing (albeit mildly entertaining) goofs.

The publishing and writing business is a lot like a tossed salad that hasn't hit the bowl again yet. And yet, a lot of people are offering to tell you exactly what is and or isn't going on. There's that smell again.
Nobody knows what works, what is easy, what you should do or what tomorrow is going to look like. A lot of people will act like they know all of the above, and I've noticed recently that a lot of people who have been very vocal are now in the awkward position of having to do some fast retraction.

Now, some of them are just being honest. "Hey, that thing I, was I wrong." I can totally respect this, and I'd much rather hear that then the alternative, which looks more like this, "you know that thing I said, well I didn't mean it that way."  or even better, "you took that thing I said totally wrong."
Guess which one you see more of?
And though I find it pretty amusing to sit in a lecture by someone I've seen three months ago and have them tell me exactly the opposite of what they said then...with equal conviction, absolutes are dangerous business. Dealing in them is not recommended. It might even be bad for your health, but I cannot back that up with any, legitimate medical research.

Here's the problem with listening to other people's advice, folks. It's often wrong. I might say it's usually wrong for you. In fact, I think I just did. If there was a substance or class or advice column or blog or seminar that could teach people to think for themselves, I'd be promoting the shit out of it. (There is, actually, I just Googled it, but it looks pretty suspect to me.)

But wait, we give advice here, right? Sure we do. I'm doing it right now. (though admittedly in a very convoluted way) However, I expect you to doubt me like a crazy person. Go on. I would. I expect you to question, to double check, refute and toss out at least half of my advice.
Because we have some pretty savvy readers, many of whom probably could whoop me in a fact checking contest, I assume that you are doing this.

Please be doing this.

Advice is fine, opinions are fine, but they stink if you try to wrap them in a "Fact" package. Nobody knows. Chant that with me. Nobody can tell me how to succeed in thirty steps, how to sell like Wool, how to self publish, how to trad publish, to agent or not to agent or that I should give it all up, buy a dancing kangaroo and start a mariachi band!

And I know you guys know this, but just in case someone stumbles by who might fall into that, "THIS is what you should do" trap. Well, there you go. Also, if you have any ideas how we can sneak that "think for yourself" serum into our politicians' drinks, let me know.

And bonus points if you get the dancing kangaroo/mariachi band reference.


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