Those Who Can’t Do, Teach

I had the opportunity today to sit down with my mother-in-law and help her work through a book idea she has. This book has been on her mind for the last several years, and she has some notes down, but has been struggling to focus her plot and make concrete decisions.

Enter me. She knows I’m a writer, and I’ve been doing a lot of work in this area, so she asked me if I would help. Of course I said yes.

I’m no expert, by any means, but I do know things. Mostly, I know things I’ve done wrong. Mistakes I’ve made can be easily passed on. I know things I’ve read about, through articles and blogs and forums and James Patterson’s masterclass.  At this point, I have a decent amount of experience simply putting words to paper. I’m honored that she thinks my opinions are worth something.

It was an interesting experience, having a face-to-face discussion with someone about writing. Someone who actually cares and is specifically looking for my opinion. Someone who thinks I have something to teach them.

I think the bones of her story are good. The idea has merit. But it does need a lot of work. There are a lot of questions she needs to answer before she can begin to put words down. Big questions like: Where do these powers come from? How do these people find out about their powers? What is the inciting event that precipitates action? And smaller things, that will determine how she tells her story: Where does this story take place? Which character will be your main character? What POV will you write it from?

As I said, she has a lot of work to do, but I’m thankful that I can steer her in the right direction. I don’t have the answers to these questions (it isn’t my story), but I’m glad I know what questions need to be asked. Like many things over the last several months, it helps me see my growth as a writer and the things that I’ve been privileged to learn.

I may not be anybody, yet. I’m not published. Not even close. I’m not officially anything. But I still have value, and I still know things that can be passed on to someone who doesn’t know quite as much. It makes me feel good about myself, and tells me that the work I’ve put in hasn’t been in vain.

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