Yesterday I received the news that an editor was interested in a story I'd sent in but that it lacked character motivation. To any authors out there reading this, you know how exciting this is! To NOT receive a form letter of rejection and be told exactly what is the missing link between being published and slipping from a slush pile and into the trash is a huge gift. Advice that makes sense from someone who could be my next editor is like winning a mini-lottery. YEY!
Advice is one of those funny creatures in life. It most often comes without being asked for, is seldom recognized as a gift, and is fully contaminated by the viewpoint of the giver. But when it works, it can be manna from heaven.
The unsolicited kind can bring out our inner dragon. To be told what to do and how to do it when we never asked to be told can relinquish uncontrollable scary monsters with in us. The type of monsters that spit out fires of retorts, sarcasms, and childish temper tantrums. It can take all of the mustering with in to pull together our adult responses and either thank the advice giver, or politely state that the advice was not requested, thank you anyway.
The other side of the advice coin is that it could come at a time that it is needed in the recipient's life. There's that saying about when the student is ready, the master will appear. And I am assuming the master will be dishing out unasked for advice. A master will know how to flavor the advice so that it will appeal to the needy student and cause him to relish what he receives.
Comedies often portray mothers as the givers of unwanted advice. Perhaps because most of us feel tied to the outcome of our child. When our kid does something wrong, we can feel like it is a reflection of our parenting--that we will look bad. So if mom can control what the offspring are up to, we look like the mom of the year.
I try to stay away from tying my self-worth to what my kids accomplish, but I too have back slipped into force feeding advice more than once in my career as a mother. I don't worry too much about my fault comings, though. My teens are always the first to point them out to me, so I never have to wonder. But I do have to be able to listen to them and acknowledge when I have crossed the line.
In regards to the editor's advice, I grabbed it like a relay baton. Yesterday was spent developing character motivation for Piper in the children's picture book called, What Piper Peppertree Discovered. Let us pray to the gods/goddesses of the world of publishing that soon you can read this book and give me some advice as to whether or not I accomplished the goal of clear motivation for why Piper does what she does.
Until then, I have plenty of other books you can read to let me know what works and what is a dismal failure. Just be gentle with me. As with all writers, I am a beginner.