And what's left for me to cover? Well, I've already hit the people who are way too casual about the job and the people who are just a wee bit too intense about it. And really, all that's left to cover is...well...rationality.
The first aspect of the inherent BS in rationality in writing is "The Goldilocks Zone". The Goldilocks Zone is like the Twilight Zone, only with bears... Well, okay, not really. I'm borrowing this term from Astronomers for the point where in life can exist in a state which we know of. It works well for this too because only in The Goldilocks Zone of writing can sane people thrive. You see, most people with a completely normal outlook on life can't actually manage to be a writer for long without losing their shit. Either they're going to not actually be a writer (because they don't take it seriously) or they're going to try to be a writer and then go completely batshit within a year or two.
But then there's The Goldilocks Zone, that magic point where they're just serious enough to get it done but just relaxed enough to not want to stick their head in an oven. It's a beautiful, magical place of sanity where someone realizes that this is a competitive market and not every single rejection is a sign of the coming apocalypse. These are the ones who make a reasonable living doing what they enjoy without becoming so entangled in it that they feel every editing mark like a dagger in the back. Sounds lovely, doesn't it? So why do I think it belongs here in the pantheon of Inherent BS?
It doesn't exist! There's no middle point where everything's "just right". What you can get are the people who think they're there. They'll sound sane, they'll look sane, they may even have a couple copies of some book printed. But anyone who's really fallen into the serious category is completely off their rocker on some level. Though, sometimes you get the people who aren't serious but fall ass backwards into a giant publishing contract for no damn good reason. But those people don't count either. Point remains, if you're serious, you're crazy, it's just variances of how crazy you actually are.
Another BS aspect of "rationality" is on the side of the readers. Several times in the past I've seen the differing opinions of what people should or shouldn't do when it comes to having their friends reading their work rather than going straight into the lion's den. Several times people have advocated the "never use your friends" philosophy as a rule of thumb and in a lot of cases they'd be right.
Sure, your friends are the people you can trust and the people who can be counted on to be there whenever you need quick input. But these people are also the people who care if your feelings get crushed. No matter who your friends are, they'll always have this bias towards your well being. The difference comes in how exactly they interpret your needs.
Say, for instance, they think that protecting you means not upsetting you by giving you bad news. These people will lie through their teeth to make sure that you don't suffer the pain of having to deal with what they really think. They really think they're doing you a favor and in turn they are, but only short term. They're protecting you without considering the long term consequences of their protections. They may prevent you from feeling like a fool today, but once you've been exposed to the public it's only a matter of time before some kid points out the fact you've just left your house without a stitch of clothing despite being perfectly sober.
And if you're not sober, those same friends need to man up and get you that intervention they've been considering.
It doesn't end at that point either. You've got to consider the fact they may hold onto the lies after they've sent you plastered into the public eye. Once it gets back, knowing damn well that your story wasn't good enough, they'll still hold onto the idea that you should keep supporting it. "Keep trying," they'll say, "A little perseverance goes a long way!"
But if they really want to see you succeed, they'll be as blunt as a baseball bat up the side of the head. Famously, JRR Tolkien was told by one of his friends "not another fucking elf". Obviously, that man did not have a circle of friends who cared much for his feelings and well being. And look at what became of his work generations later. Think of it as "skull training". You let them hit you over the head with your own manuscript enough times and you'll adapt to avoid further concussions or learn how to disarm them with a swift kick to the jimmies.
But how do you know which group you have? Well, if they're always praising your work but you don't see any progress, you know you're probably dealing with a group of yes men. On the other hand, if they critique you, there's still a 50/50 shot they might be holding back the stuff they're really concerned about.
Not long ago I told someone her character reminded me of Bella Swan without the vampires. It was a bit blunt, little brutal, but once I'd said it, a couple of her friends repeated the same thing. Obviously, none of them wanted to take the first stab at her kidneys, the messy work was left to me. But if they'd just gotten it over with, the suffering would have been a little less drawn out.
So what does a writer do about the friend issue? Approach them with caution and watch for patterns. If you've got a pattern of people raining sunshine on your every work, you should move on. If they're providing criticisms but you feel some hesitation from them, you should push for harsher criticisms or find someone who'll provide it. But in the end, just make sure that you surround yourself with people who are blatantly honest.