DEAR MISS MANNERS: I'm the author of three published books. I came to writing late in life, but enjoy excellent reviews and decent sales. I have managed to secure an agent, an editor and a publishing contract.
I met a slightly older writer at a conference a few years ago. My colleague has more books to their name, and their success seems to have come earlier in their career. As we got to know each other better, I was surprised by several rather forceful requests that I read and comment on their work-in-progress. Requests to read my own work-in-progress followed in short order.
Naively, I agreed, which precipitated several specific, unsolicited responses: "You should submit to publisher X." "You should work with this editor." "You should write for a broader audience," and so forth.
While I believe the individual is well-intended, their directives are a source of major frustration. I've repeatedly said "no, thank you" to subsequent requests to see my unfinished work, stressing that I am more comfortable showing my efforts once they are completed, not "under construction."
Nothing I say seems to make a difference; the demands just keep coming. I've grown increasingly angry. It's come to the point that I avoid communication with this person and share only the vaguest descriptions of my projects.
I sense my colleague wants to be needed, and is perhaps wistful for the publishing marketplace of his early career. I'm hesitant to cease communication altogether, but the constant interventions have to stop. Short of abandoning the friendship, I'm at a loss as to what more I can do or say.
GENTLE READER: Blame it on your publishing team: "I am afraid that it's too confusing to consider going in a different direction from my editors. Too many cooks, and all." And then Miss Manners suggests that you find other authors with whom to talk shop -- then you can discuss their work with this person, rather than your own.