Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Personal Reflections: Giving Advice

One of the many paradoxes and, yes, hypocrisies of my life is that I freely dispense advice and yet--at least generally speaking--despise getting it. I don't like people telling me what to do. I like working my way toward my own solutions.

That isn't to say that I don't stand behind the advice I give others. Or that dishing out advice is somehow a bad thing. I love, for instance, the many tips Carolyn Howard Johnson gives on her blog Sharing with Writers. Likewise, I look forward to the writing exercises Mary Carroll Moore posts each week on How To Write, Plan & Develop a Book. Carolyn's advice saves authors enormous time and expense when it comes to marketing their books. She's a pro. Mary is as well.

I, too, am a pro of sorts. I have a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge about late blooming.  As I think about my situation, however, it's no wonder that I'm uncomfortable telling people what to do. Very few if any value judgments go along with doling out practical advice for promoting a book or addressing one's inner critic. But encouraging others to pay attention to their dreams implies, at least to some degree, that they should be doing so. I don't want to lay that on anyone.

Last February, artist Karen Heffner, host of the cable TV program Ageless, asked me how I manage to walk the line between providing inspiration (which I love to do) and preaching (which I don't). The short answer is that I don't always succeed. Above is a clip of our conversation.


  1. I enjoyed this post and clip, Prill.

  2. Anonymous1:14 PM

    Hi Prill - I admire your willingness to be objective about yourself. I do not know what it will take for you to launch yourself off of your front porch. You have a comfortable life I imagine and to write incisively and with deep meaning, do you have the life experience? You have always been very beautiful, inside and on the outside. This is not flattery. Life can be very ugly on the inside and on the outside. If you want to write an escapist novel for your readers, I cannot help you. If you need to write a novel of importance to which you have alluded by citing important other writers then you need to find your message. I have been thinking about your widowed character. She can become the voice of your message. I imagine a transformation and revelation within her that will have deep and clear meaning to impart to the reader. Our society needs a writer/leader now, Prill. Humanity needs a powerful woman writer to surge into prominence with truth that can be writ larger than the story. I think that you can do it, Prill and you need to go back and deep into your idealism to find the message. You may have another 54 years in front of you to live well. Start today and accept and love yourself. You will do good.

  3. Dear Anonymous,

    Your comments always provide much to reflect upon. I do indeed have a comfortable life--something I'm immensely grateful for. But dare I say that it hasn't all been easy. Perhaps relatively so, but not easy in absolute terms. I have no desire to write escapist fiction. My novel is character driven, not plot driven. Anyway, it's a work in progress. I will say, though, that I'm back to writing every day and there's a certain magic in that. Anyway, thank you so much for your encouragement and for prodding me to go deeper.

  4. Ha! Prill, I love giving advice, too. I see you've noticed and I thank you for that! I do think it helps, though, that people have SUBSCRIBED to my newsletter to get it! It's sort of like asking for advice, isn't it?

    But I admit, I love to give it any old time. Mostly because I hate to see authors fall into the same potholes I did.

    And, BTW, I love your advice,too. Where would blogs be without advice!


  5. Thanks, Carolyn (and Allyn). You're so right to point out that it helps that people subscribe to your newsletter. It's also true that I don't impose my blog on anyone. People can read it if they want and keep away if they don't. Still...I don't like to preach--even to the choir.