Perspective | Carolyn Hax: The third time, or the 300th, won’t be the charm without a first time

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At least twice a week, Annie sends me links to publications she thinks I should submit to, explaining she saw something in them that reminded her of my writing, and thinks I have a good shot there. She pushes in other ways, too — like texting, and mentioning to other writers right in front of me that I should be getting published.

I find it stressful and embarrassing and would like to tell her to back off, but I worry that I will regret it down the line — if, for example, I am cutting off a possible future connection. How do I gently ask her to quit pushing me, without getting rid of a great cheerleader?

Quit Pushing Me!: Well, you can try the direct route, and tell her you appreciate how supportive she is, but you’re not ready so the links just mess with your head and mock you from your message queue. Offer some version of “It’s not you, it’s me!”

Or . . . you can recognize Annie and her links aren’t your problem, it’s your writerly CoNsCiEnCe [spooky ghost noises], telling you it’s time to stop being afraid and just send your stuff out.

Idunno. I prefer to take people at their word, and there’s absolutely nothing weird or wrong about your pushiness fatigue — but, but. It’s so common for people to get frustrated with a repeated suggestion not because the person making it doesn’t know it’s wrong, but because the person receiving it knows it’s right.

So, apply as appropriate.

And, see what readers wrote about your writing:

●How did Annie get the guts to put it out there? Open up about your “not having the guts” — she’s practically begging you. Yes, it’s hard, but if you want this life, then you’re going to have step out of your comfort zone. You’re going to have accept the (many) rejections that come of it. You’re going to have to listen to any rejection advice and have the confidence to know when it’s useful and when it isn’t. Get Annie to help you with stepping out.

●It’s time to submit. Start papering your walls with your rejections.

●Yes, the poster should ask herself if she’s bothered because she knows she should be sending her stuff out already, fair question, but: Twice a week? Makes me wonder what’s going on with Annie’s own life that she’s dishing out her advice to someone clearly not receptive to it.

●The chatter reminds me of a co-worker. When I started at the company, she was living with her parents and “looking for [her own] apartment,” but couldn’t seem to find the right one. When I left the company — Eight. Years. Later. — she was STILL looking for an apartment. Does this aspiring writer really want to still be almost ready to start sending out their work eight years from now?



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