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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ask for Help

I am not very good at asking for help. For example, before I have someone read something for style, I have already revised it to a point that there are not a lot of stylistic suggestions left to be made. I don't believe in showing a "rough draft" to anyone else. What I like to do, however, is to consult with people in my field without wasting too much of their time. So I wait until I have a significant question or two. I almost always say yes when someone else consults with me in a similar way; that way I accumulate good will and have people I've done large and small favors for. I never do this at the last moment, when I need an urgent answer within less than a week.

Today I sent two paragraphs of my introduction to my current project to 4 people, all of whom would be predisposed to help me for various reasons.

Some requests for help are ways of saying: let's have a dialogue, I want to be talking to you about my project. In some cases, the question you are asking is kind of a pretext. Most people will welcome serious interlocutors. If they don't, they are jerks.

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