Showing posts with label Ask Amy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ask Amy. Show all posts

On Mourning the Loss of Ask Amy for Her Daily Wisdom with My Oatmeal and Coffee Each Morning

 

The Guest Blogger with Typewriter 
She Used  in Early Ann Landers Days

To #WritersontheMove Subscribers and Visitors:

Amy Dickinson just announced that she would be retiring her Ask Amy advice column after several decades of serving readers like me who enjoy learning from others’ mistakes and successes.  Unbeknownst to Amy, we have a history that goes way back and I am pretty sure it is unique after reading her columns (and her predecessor Ann Landers’ columns) for so long.  I hope you will find it interesting and help me help her celebrate doing something new with her writing from her home in New York State.  Here it is just as it appears in the snail mail I sent to her. 

Dear Amy,                                                                            June, 2024



Chapter Twenty-Two
Getting Questions Answered 
à la Ann Landers, Amy, or Eric

 
“There is only one thing better than learning from our own mistakes. It’s learning from the booboos, blunders, and gaffes of others.” ~ CHJ

 

So, dear reader, what if you didn’t get it right the first time! What if you feel frozen or depressed about an aspect of your review process? If you’ve read this book through, you probably suspect I don’t much like being told no or that there is only one right way to do something. It is part of my onward-and-upward-with-no-delays philosophy.

That’s one reason I love Q&A formats; they tend to highlight alternative views and illustrate what destructive thinking consists of. That love comes, in part, from some of my first experiences as a journalist. The editor at my first “real” writing job put me to work making Ann Landers’ columns fit into space allotted on page layouts the advertising and backshop departments had designed for what we then called the “Society” pages. (Advertising is where the money comes from that keeps newspapers’ presses rolling so they get first dibs on the available space on newspaper pages.) Sometimes there was not enough room for all of Ann’s letters so it was my duty to edit, cut, and fix so they fit and were still intelligible.

     In the process, I learned a lot in the letters about life’s little problems including the roadblocks similar to the ones we authors run into with reviews. Q&As are an easy way to identify problems and to make them understandable because they are anecdotal. So, you are going to get a few short Q&As that answer some questions about the review process that keep you awake at night. Sometimes they are questions about specifics, sometimes general. But they are exercises in learning from one another. All are adaptations of actual Q&As à la Ann Landers (or her Ask Amy successor!) that I use in the seminars I teach.  

###



PS: Amy, I am enjoying your reruns this month, too. Though I have to admit I have never seen one of those professed reruns when it was (theoritically) first published. Not once. Over all those decades I have been avidly reading your column.

How can that be? My memory isn’t what it once was, but I’m still not that forgetful and I couldn’t have missed more than a few of your columns while on vacation over the years. Just wondering…

And, please pass along good wishes to Eric, too!


Very best, your faithful reader, 

Success in 2024,
Carolyn Howard-Johnson




Promise yourself better editing of all your work—query letters to books--in 2024 
with the 3rd Edition of my “The Frugal Editor." 
 
NOW IN RELEASE ON AMAZON from
MODERN HISTORY PRESS

ADVANCE PRAISE
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Valentine's Gifts: Sometimes Words Fail Even a Writer

 


He Won’t Write You a Love Letter

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers

 

Way back in the dark ages when I edited Ann Landers’ columns for a newspaper I worked for, I learned some advice columns can be nearly as valuable as an expensive therapist. My habit of turning to Ann’s column before I read the headlines came in handy recently when Ask Amy, her successor, published a letter dealing with a problem I’ve often heard applied to comedians who don’t like it when someone demands they “be funny,” when they haven’t quite finished swallowing whatever they are chewing. It never occurred to me that it applies to we writers as well.

 

Amy’s column featured a wife who had been married for thirty years to an “eloquent, thoughtful writer” who chooses words carefully. She says, “He turns mundane subjects into interesting reads.” She also says that he is smart, funny, great person, husband, father. (Yep, she’s still complaining to Amy!)

 

This rotter—her husband—won’t write down his feelings for her. He won’t do it for Christmas. He apparently has refused to do it to save money on a more expensive gift. She was hurt and when she pushed, he pushed back. She pushed again. Ugly argument.

 

All this scoundrel could come up with on demand for Valentine’s day is a card with a website address for planning a beautiful trip. No personal poem or sentiment suitable for a card but for her eyes only. One wonders if even a heartfelt “I love you” would do the job. I feel nothing but pity for her. Ahem?

 

At the end of this story, Neglected Wife admits that she knows he loves her. But she assumes she must not be the love of his life and wants an explanation. Now. For Valentine’s day! 

 

Wow. If she is dejected now, just think how disconsolate she’ll be when she finds out about the fifth-grade crush he can’t quite forget!

 

Amy tries to “describe the dynamic of being a writer and getting an emotionally loaded assignment” to this obviously ungrateful reader. The mere idea of fulfilling an assignment like the one this woman has given her husband gives Amy “writer-hives.”

 

So, what do we have here? Is he passive aggressive? Is it creative paralysis. Or do we have here a case of a controlling nature, a persistent controlling nature. On the part of the wife. Or a spouse (either one) who is insecure with love, with writing, or both?

 

I admit, I’ll often take the wife’s part when I read columns like this. So does Amy. I suspect we both figure a lot of men just don’t know how to fill the expectations of the woman they marry—or any other for that matter.

 

Here’s my suggestion to the wife. Back off and stay there. Your man already has an editor. Maybe a lot of them. People who are demanding (or give assignments) are often critical of the final product, even when the author (like certain presidents) think it’s “perfect.” He knows damn well that if he’s in trouble now, it will be worse once his sentiments are indelible. [Disclaimer: I am an editor and I try to be gentle; perhaps you can tell it’s my job to give advice.)

 

My mother used to say, “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” I used to hate it. I thought it applied only to women. Women have to be made of sugar plumbs. Men get to be sauerkraut if they damn well want. Of course I was wrong. Even flies come in two distinct genders. What works for flies works for writers. Reluctant writers. Married writers. Writers of any gender. But it’s a little naïve to think it will always work.

 

Still it’s fun to think of the stories we might come up with if we writers apply this advice to other creatives. Do a little dance for your comedian friends. While I’m at being controlling, don’t tell them jokes. They pay writers for that.

 

MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. The books in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers have won multiple awards. That series includes both the third edition of The Frugal Book Promoter and my publisher and I are hoping for a February release of the third edition of my The Frugal Editor. They will then both be published by Modern History Press and between them they have won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, Dan Poynter’s Global Ebook Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically is still in its first edition and waiting for you in its indie-published edition. 

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