I remember what it was like to be a new writer. I tell myself that often. Some days, when I'm learning something new about the NY machine or something similar, I believe the lie that I remember what being new was really like.
Then comes days like today. I signed onto a contest forum and started reading the threads. Many of the questions were things I wouldn't have had to ask, and I passed over them. They're new authors; they're doing what they should...asking, learning... I remember that. That's what being a new author is; that's the process.
Then I came across a set of questions from first-time novelists, anguished... "What do I do? What does that mean? How can anyone learn this? I'm going to fail, because I don't understand..." It's heart-wrenching, and I find myself reaching out to those new authors and offering information...mentoring, anything short of editing them, because I just don't have time to do it.
Was I never that scared new author? Was I always like I am now, save with less personal experience and information at my disposal? Or have I simply forgotten what that panic and anguish was like?
Assuming I was once that scared newbie... Does it make me less to have forgotten something so elemental and stomach-churning? Or does it mean I've just grown and see it with a clearer eye, the internal voice that assures me: "Asking is all right. It's not the end of the world. The worst they can say is 'no.' I can learn this. I want to learn this, to improve my craft and my professionalism. If I fail today, I move on and succeed tomorrow."?
And does it make me a better mentor or worse that I can assure them that "This too shall pass." while I seem to have forgotten how horrible this phase is...or never knew it?