My 5 Most Unforgettable Lessons

Yesterday, blog visitor Pam asked me what my most unforgettable lesson was from conventions and workshops and so on. Lists are nice, so here’s a nice list.

  1. First things first. As I learned over the weekend, lesson #1 is: If an expert tells you to “just” do anything, don’t just do it. What the expert means is, “Do this and this and that and that other thing and several more complicated things, and then it will probably be safe to ‘just’ do the thing I said.” Trust me on this.
  2. The late, great mystery writer Dick Stodghill taught me, “Don’t take yourself seriously — BUT take your writing seriously. Make sure the people around you take it seriously. Insist on it. This isn’t a joke; it isn’t something you play at; this is your work.” That advice literally changed my life.
  3. Don’t judge. I met a young woman at a convention whom a lot of the attendees treated with scorn because they thought she went around drunk all the time. I shared a room with her because she had come to the con on a whim and didn’t have a room. She seemed drunk because she had extreme lupus and was taking experimental medication. Her choices were pain or loopiness. She stood the pain until she couldn’t, then she gave it up and took the loopiness.
  4. You learn more from listening than you do from talking.
  5. Most people are far kinder than you could ever imagine.

I also learned how to do this or that, but those lessons were merely useful. The ones on my list were important.

This is Tuesday, so I’m posting at Fatal Foodies today on the subject of French Twist Toast.

I was supposed to post at Echelon Expressions on Sunday, but I forgotted. I’m out of town most of today, so I may do it today or I may do it tomorrow. MY BAD!!

UPDATE: I posted at Echelon Explorations on the topic of cross-genre [site is defunct].

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: A character’s good intentions are misunderstood.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “My 5 Most Unforgettable Lessons

  1. Jane

    October 16, 2012 at 10:18am

    Well said, friend.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Mary

    October 16, 2012 at 6:31pm

    Those are great tidbits to pass on. I think on the ‘just do this’ should always be taken with a grain of salt. One size rarely fits all in this business.

    I never believed in judging. You can miss out on some great people and things that way.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      October 16, 2012 at 6:50pm

      This computer expert telling me to “just” move a file to a different directory was like if I told a dog to “just” eat a can of dog food. The dog wouldn’t understand he had to open the can, and he wouldn’t know how, and he wouldn’t have the tools, and he’d probably hurt himself…. Yeah, that’s how I broke my website. :/

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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