asking me for opinions on your writing

Occasionally someone will ask me to read their work and either comment or tell them where they should submit it. Some of these folks I know, some I don’t. It’s flattering to be asked, but my answer is: no.  I could describe my reasoning in great detail, but the inimitable John Scalzi has a far better article than I do.

On rare occasion, I make the mistake of saying “yes, I’ll look at your work.”  One of the following will result.

  1. I will give you my honest opinion of your first page.  You will respond by dedicating the rest of your life to making me miserable.
  2. I will give you the metaphorical equivalent of a pat on the head.
  3. I will say you lack the fire.
  4. I will tell you that publishers require sentence to have both a noun and a verb, and that you cannot use emoticons in published work.
  5. I will “accidentally” erase your manuscript, your email, and my hard drive, so that I can honestly claim that losing your work was part of a much larger accident.
  6. I will put off looking at your work in favor of paying work or spending time with my family.  I will feel increasingly guilty about this.  I will begin avoiding you.  The importance and difficulty of evaluating your work will grow in my mind until it assumes unbearable proportions.  I will take a week out of my life to evaluate your work thoroughly.  By this time you will have married your third spouse, adopted four feral children and and a platypus, and moved to Aruba to fulfill your lifelong dream of being a beachcomber.

Note that none of these result in you getting anything you want.

If you really want to get my opinion, I suggest you either pick a response you like, or roll a die.

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