Dear Annie: I’ve been trying to write a novel for a year. The problem is, I have no support from my family. My wife and friends always groan when I ask them to read what I’ve written. I’m trying to be considerate of their level of interest and don’t want them to be annoyed with me, but I need some feedback on my writing.
That being said, would you know where I could send my pages for review? I’d like to know if my story is interesting the way I’m writing it, or if I need to develop it better.
— Amateur Author in El Paso, Texas
Dear Author: There are various ways to get your written material in front of an audience. You can ask writing teachers to look at it. You can search for a writers workshop or try meetup.com for a writing group that critiques members’ work. You can self-publish (you are responsible for all costs), put it in a blog or on an Internet site for free (you will get myriad comments, many worthless, and you’d better have a thick skin), enter a writing contest, or submit a short version to a magazine. You also can go to the nearest library and find a listing of literary agents. An agent will help get your book into the hands of a reputable publisher or reviewer. Getting published is not easy, but if you have talent and skill, it is possible.
Dear Annie: Our daughter was asked to be the maid of honor at her friend’s wedding. She was very excited about it. We planned a small shower for her closest friends and family. Now the bride and her mother have given us a list of 78 women to invite. I checked the etiquette book and found no encouragement for such a large event. The 78 women are also invited to the wedding reception.
We simply cannot afford such a large shower, and the bride’s parents know it. I do not understand how they could expect us to handle such a large event. Our daughter doesn’t want to lose the bride’s friendship. Should she bow out of the wedding?
— Anxious Parent
Dear Anxious: No bride should demand such extravagant favors. Your daughter should tell her that she cannot manage such a large affair and ask that the guest list be trimmed to 30 women or however many she can afford to host. Your daughter could also ask the other bridesmaids to host this shower with her, providing more resources and perhaps accommodating a larger guest list.
If the other bridesmaids are not interested or if the bride insists on 78 women, your daughter should offer to bow out of the wedding party. We hope the bride will then understand how unreasonable she is being and back off.
Dear Annie: Your answer to “Parents at Wits’ End,” whose bipolar son would not take his meds, exemplifies the dilemma posed by mental illness in this country, namely that without the patient’s cooperation matters may quickly grow hopeless.
My wife had severe bipolar disorder. It was only luck that kept her aggressive driving from killing all of us and enabled her to keep her job. A friend urged me to leave with my children, but I knew my kids would be devastated, and I worried that my wife would kill herself.
My wife saw a doctor who prescribed an antidepressant, but she did not want a mood stabilizer. The antidepressant by itself sent her spiraling, as she knew it would. The doctor’s nurse later told me, “We knew something was wrong, but she wouldn’t talk about it when she came in.” Less than a year later, my wife committed suicide, breaking all of our hearts.
If a bipolar person cannot cooperate, the family can do nothing but pray.
— Wiser in Tennessee
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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