So the new car, an HRV (a wee bit smaller than a CRV), arrived in my driveway and I literally had to have a lesson in how to start it (A button? What fresh hell is this? as Dorothy Parker would say). I must have called the salesperson a dozen times to ask questions about bells and whistles and I don't know what all.
And then this year, I started getting emails about changing my oil. So I made an appointment to go to the professionals at my local dealership, at least for the first oil change. And after checking the mileage, the very decent fellow said, “You don’t need an oil change, ma'am. Your car can tell you when you do.”
Here we go, I thought, another fresh hell.
“Here, let me show you where you can check your oil.” And the pro got in my car and pointed to a black pencil-type rod and blew my mind.
“Has that always been there?” I asked, completely incredulous. And yes, it had always been there, waiting to give me all kinds of info.
If I had taken my car to a generic oil change place, would they have pointed out that rod button? I suspect not; they would’ve likely assumed I knew about it already. But at the dealership, their job is to help their customers have the best experience with their cars. Your success is their success, so to speak.
Professionals can be very helpful that way, can’t they? And it doesn’t matter if you’re a new car owner or a new writer. (Ah, finally getting to the writing part!)
It was embarrassing when I bought that new car and had no idea how to make it go. So I had to ask questions; I had to read the manual. (Um…I may not have actually read that book. But I skimmed it!)
It was also humbling when I started out in the creative writing business. I had a journalism degree and had plenty of news writing and copywriting experience but that’s not the same as the fiction and essay writing I was trying. So I started asking LOTS of questions of the more experienced writers I met, and I read a LOT of "manuals" as well.
And just as I went to the dealership for the first oil change, I joined professional writing organizations so I could find the people who knew the answers. And I can’t tell you how many times I had mind-blowing reactions while attending a webinar, a class, or a conference:
“That’s what show-don’t-tell means?”
“Setting can be a character? Brilliant!”
“The Hero’s Journey? Has that always been there?”
And just like the very decent pro at the dealership, most professionals in the writing business want you to have a positive and enriching experience when you begin your journey with words. Whether you’re reading their wisdom in a book or blog post, attending their classes, or paying for their expertise in a specific field, they want you to succeed.
It’s not always easy when faced with something new. But take it from a car owner and a writer who is still learning new stuff every day: go to the pros for a little help. You’ll be very glad you did!
(But seriously, y'all. That little pencil-like rod/button is practically impossible to see, right?)