Sunday, August 15, 2010

Advice Not Taken

Lately I've been asking people for advice about a variety of problems in my personal and professional life and then not taking it.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes the advice is bad advice; sometimes it's advice that I know I should take and well may get around to taking one of these days, when I'm more psychologically ready to take it but I'm just not ready for it right now; sometimes the advice is good advice, generally, but just not good advice for ME. Sometimes our resistance to taking what we can even recognize as good advice can play a helpful role in figuring out who we truly are and what we truly value: yes, this is good advice for getting x, but now that I realize that THIS is the price of getting x, I think I'd rather not get x, after all.

An example: I was recently given the piece of advice that among other things I should do to advance my career as an author is to have a better photo taken - and for the photo I should wear makeup. This is advice I asked for and paid for, as part of a consultation I solicited on promoting my new book. But this is advice I don't want to take. I have to admit that I doubt that I would sell a single additional copy of a single one of my books just because I looked more attractive in my photo. Nor do I think that I would look more attractive while wearing makeup. But mostly, I just wouldn't look like ME if I were wearing makeup. And for better or worse, I've decided that even IF this is good advice, and I would sell more books if I had a photo of a made-up me, I'd rather look like who I am, even though I'm not that wild about how I look and frankly can't stand to look at a photo of myself, or even to look in the mirror except to see if my part is straight in the morning.

In junior high school one day some girlfriends did a makeover of me after school, for fun, and put makeup all over me. I didn't like it. Then once as an adult, I let some makeup lady at a department store makeup counter try the same experiment. I didn't like it. Maybe if I had an opportunity to go on TV, say, for that Today show appearance authors get the day after they win the Newbery, I might consider it for that one occasion. But that hasn't happened yet. And I don't think wearing makeup for a photo is going to get me any closer to winning the Newbery.

So I'm not going to take this advice. But I did get a lot of other excellent suggestions from this promotion consultation that I AM going to take. Best, I got a good shot-in-the-arm, kick-in-the-pants to get me started on making more serious efforts to promote my books. So I'm going to take a ton of other good advice.

But I'm not going to wear makeup for a publicity photo. That's just not who I am.
(That's me, without makeup, below.)


  1. Picture perfect, Claudia! Don't change a thing!

  2. I agree with Clara!

    And, to mangle a few lines from Our Town: "Am I pretty, Mama?" "You're pretty enough for all normal purposes."

    (I've said that to myself on **numerous** occasions, and you're a LOT prettier than that. Even for abnormal purposes, Claudia.)

    Love, Sally