I'm fairly nervous about teaching at Clarion this year. I said no when asked for years, because I wasn't sure what I had to teach anyone about writing. Mostly I figure I'm still figuring it out myself. I finally said yes, and I still don't think I know enough to dare to actually teach anyone.
In the shower today I tried to think about the best advice I'd ever been given by another writer. There was something that someone said at my first Milford, about using style as a covering, but sooner or later you would have to walk naked down the street, that was useful...
And then I remembered. It was Harlan Ellison about a decade ago.
He said, "Hey. Gaiman. What's with the stubble? Every time I see you, you're stubbly. What is it? Some kind of English fashion statement?"
"Well? Don't they have razors in England for Chrissakes?"
"If you must know, I don't like shaving because I have a really tough beard and sensitive skin. So by the time I've finished shaving I've usually scraped my face a bit. So I do it as little as possible."
"Oh." He paused. "I've got that too. What you do is, you rub your stubble with hair conditioner. Leave it a couple of minutes, then wash it off. Then shave normally. Makes it really easy to shave. No scraping."
I tried it. It works like a charm. Best advice from a writer I've ever received.