Friday, July 8, 2016

The road to hell...

If you've been around for any length of time, you've probably heard the expression "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."  Yesterday, I came across a modified version of that expression that went "The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and unsolicited advice is the mortar."  I thought that was an interesting twist on an old cliche.  It gave me some food for thought.

I mostly hate it when people offer unsolicited advice.  It annoys me for so many reasons.  I found some interesting articles written by other people about why unsolicited advice can be so irksome and I mostly agreed with their points.  I could probably just restate what those other authors said and I probably will, to some extent.

I think the main reason I dislike unsolicited advice is because it's usually off the cuff and somewhat flippant.  It's given by people who, for the most part, don't have any idea of what someone's personal situation and challenges are.  It also usually comes across as more about the advice giver's ego than actual help for the recipient.  And if the recipient didn't ask for help, that so-called advice can be insulting to their intelligence.

So... what prompted today's post?  I've written about unsolicited advice givers many times, but it hasn't been as much of a problem lately as it was a few years ago.  Yesterday, I ran smack into that old monster, unsolicited advice.

Someone left me a very interesting comment on my post about Father's Day guilt mongers.  If you've been reading this blog, you may remember that a few weeks ago, I wrote about Huntsville, Alabama mom, Connie Foster, who allegedly killed herself and her two kids over a custody dispute.  I followed up that post by mentioning Foster's ex husband and the father of the two kids, David House, who was celebrating Father's Day alone this year.  A woman who says she knew the family wrote a detailed comment about visiting David House on Father's Day.

I was very interested in what the commenter had to say and made the observation that maybe in another life, I might have been a true crime writer.  I say this because I am interested in true crime and write about it often.  A lot of times, I do get comments from people who were either involved in crimes or know the people involved.  They often want to share their stories.  So I mentioned to some of my friends that maybe I'd missed my calling.  It wasn't really a serious comment.  I didn't mean I wanted to become a true crime writer now, only that maybe if I'd had the interest when I was single and in my 20s, I might have pursued it.

I got a bunch of comments from people telling me that my life's not over and I should be a true crime writer.  They said this as if it's just that easy to start writing about true crime.  Granted, I do write about it on my blog, but to be a legitimate author like Ann Rule, Kathryn Casey, or Burl Barer, I'd probably need to make some major lifestyle changes.  It would probably mean I'd need to move back to the States and start trying to make some connections.  I'd need to start hanging out in courtrooms.    

I am 44 years old and finally at a place in my life where I mostly feel pretty good about things (despite my endless anxiety and bitching).  Do I want to pack up my stuff and move back to the States?  Not really.  Not at this point, anyway.  Actually, given what's going on in the United States right now, I'm kind of hoping we can stay abroad for awhile.  The USA is a scary place.  People are killing each other there.  Granted, Europe also has its problems, but it seems like shit is getting very real and surreal in my homeland.

Of course, if I actually was serious about wanting to be a true crime writer, I could look at all of this death and destruction as almost a positive.  You can't be a true crime writer if there are no crimes, right?  But one of the reasons why I'm not sure I'd want to pursue a real career in true crime writing is that I'm afraid it would ultimately be very depressing.

I write a lot about true crime on this blog, both cases I read about in the news and books I read by true crime authors.  But this is not a true crime blog, so interspersed with those posts are ones that are silly and funny or even just nonsense.  I think if I made it my life's work to write about true crime, I would feel more anxiety and depression than I already experience.  Or, maybe not.  I don't know.  The point is, I'm the one who has to decide if that's something I want to risk.  I don't need a friend offering a suggestion to launch a career.

Anyway, getting back to "unsolicited advice"...  I wrote that maybe I should have been a true crime writer and a bunch of people who know little about what my life is actually like told me I should just up and be one.  I'm flattered that they think it's a job I can do.  But it's kind of like the same people who, when I've mentioned regretting that I don't have kids (and I don't regret it nearly as much now), tell me I should go adopt one.  As if that thought had never crossed my mind.  As if it's just that easy to pop over to the local orphanage and take a kid home with me.  As if the road to adopting a child was quick, seamless, and painless.  It's not, and neither is launching a brand new career.  Starting a new career should be something I'd be driven to do, not something I'd do because a few friends told me I should.  And really, how many people are going to say, "You know, it never occurred to me that I could adopt a child or launch a new career.  Thanks for the suggestion.  I'll get right on that!"?

Major life changes often take planning and careful consideration.  While it's nice that people want to offer a vote of confidence in my ability to write true crime, it's not very helpful when people tell me my life isn't over (how do they know?) or I can go out and do such and such and launch a new career.  It's one thing if someone has a legitimate lead for me and wants to either work with me or point me in the direction of someone who is interested in working with me.  It's another if they flippantly tell me that I still have the rest of my life to do something.  I know I do.  Can't I just make a general comment without people suggesting that I take some sort of life changing action?  Don't people realize that I'm just thinking aloud and not actually looking for suggestions or advice?

And, more importantly, don't they have their own major life decisions to make?  


  1. Knotty, what you really need to do with your life is to . . . just kidding. I'm not really in a position to be giving advice to anyone. i find some true crime interesting, and can see how others are drawn to it, but I agree that writing about it all the time would be depressing.

    1. I am hormonal as hell this week. It's affecting my mood in a big way.


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