Earlier this month, agent Janet Reid had an encounter with a writer over the phone. You can read about it here. That's not the crazy part. No, the crazy part is that when Janet stated that she could not help the writer over the phone*, the writer got mad and sent Janet an email saying that she was rude.
You know what's rude? Emailing someone to tell them that they're rude. Seriously.
But that brings me to my point, which is this: you are not entitled to help. Ever. Not in life, and especially not in pursuit of your goal of becoming a published writer. Now, a lot of people will probably help you. I personally have had the help of the many people in my fledgling writing career. Teachers, friends, other writers, agents, writing groups, fan fiction beta readers, fan fiction readers...many many many people have helped me, out of the goodness of their hearts, for free, because they wanted to.
But I wasn't entitled to that help. I didn't "deserve" it. I was lucky to get it.
And when I asked for it from someone and I didn't get it, there were times when I got angry and wanted to send that person an email that said "thanks for NOTHING, JERK." Fortunately, I have managed to resist that impulse thus far (and hopefully will continue to do so in the future). Because that's a jerky thing to do.
It's sometimes a hard impulse to resist, right? I mean, all I'm asking is for a moment of your time. Just a phone call or a read through or a recommendation. How hard can it be? Why can't you just give me five minutes of your time? You don't have other more important things to do, right? Like a job? Or, I don't know, a personal life? All you have to do is help me, and I'm sure you've been living for that opportunity your whole life? Oh...you haven't?
For another writer's take on the issue of helping others (with more adult language, so you've been warned), here's an article by screenwriter Josh Olson: "I Will Not Read Your F***ing Script."
I'm not as anti-help as Josh Olson (and he's not as anti-help as he sounds, either, if you read his article carefully), but his point is clear. I am not entitled to help. No one is. Getting it means you're really really lucky.
* This person isn't one of Janet's clients, obvs.