Re: giving writing advice

Subject: Re: giving writing advice
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 06 Nov 2000 11:43:27 -0800

Michele Davis wrote:

> when people email, or call, or write a letter to me asking how they may, perhaps, break into a particluar >field, I always answer them. It took them enough chutzpah to contact me in the first place. And it's at
> that moment I remember what she said---"be humble."

To a large extent, I can admire this attitude. However, my guess is
that you haven't received very many of these requests, or been badly
burned by people who, after receiving help from you, failed to
reciprocate when you needed any.

I know about a dozen people who have received a reasonable amount of
fame in different fields (no, I'm not going to name them;
name-dropping isn't the point. Suffice to say that, if I mentioned
the names, many people on the list would recognize them). Without
exception, every one of them reached a point where they had to stop
responding to requests like the ones you mentioned. They didn't want
to, but, if they were going to have time to do the things that made
people want to write to them in the first place, they had no choice.

Also, while decency may motivate you to help, there are too many
people who simply take advantage of your good nature. They will
gladly take up as much time as you are willing to give, but give
little or nothing in return - in some cases, not even a thank-you.
Probably, you don't help with any expectation of reciprocity, but,
keep giving long enough, and you can't help realizing that your
willingness is being abused. Being humble is all very well, but it
doesn't mean that you need to be a doormat.

I'm not saying that you should stop being generous. However, having
had a very tiny taste of the first situation and an overdose of the
second, I am saying that, just for the sake of sanity and
self-respect, sometimes you have to turn down these requests for
help and do what's best for you.

Bruce Byfield, Outlaw Communications
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux
604.421.7189 bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com

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