From the Pet Peeve file: pretending hindsight is foresight…

Have you noticed that some people will try to pass off your hindsight as their foresight?

When you present them with the results of an action, they claim to have predicted the outcome all along. If you tried something that didn’t work or learned something through experience, they’ll respond:

“Well, I knew that.” (No, they didn’t)

“I told you that would happen.” (No, they didn’t.)

“I could have told you that.” (Then why didn’t you? Because you didn’t know.)

It’s easy for them to claim to have known the facts beforehand after the facts were just handed to them on a silver platter.  These people have to be right. They have to look like they’re in the know. Sometimes they’ll even contradict themselves–what they claim they told you is exactly the opposite of what they did tell you.

As an author I have to make a lot of decisions affecting the success of a book. It’s great when I have history, experience or expert advice upon which to base a decision, but sometimes I don’t. Often outcome is unpredictable; there’s no way to know if something will work until I try it. Some times it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

When people who don’t have clue or aren’t in the publishing industry tell me after the fact they knew something wouldn’t work or that it would work and I could have been successful sooner if only I’d listened them, well, it’s annoying.

Has this ever happened to you? What’s your Pet Peeve related to writing, publishing, or reading?

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7 Responses to From the Pet Peeve file: pretending hindsight is foresight…

  1. It irritates me to no end when people think that the same exact thing will work the same exact way in multiple genres. I once worked with an editor who seems to be trying to treat my erotic romance like a Victorian mystery. Um, no. Doesn’t work that way. LOL Heck, even when it comes to the different niche markets in erotic romance, what will work in one may not or will not work in another. I asked the other day if any of the cover art standards from mainstream erotic romance were considered good in interracial romance.

  2. Or they will argue with you when they have NO experience.

  3. Ohhh. I had this at the writers’ group last week and it annoyed me so much. Everyone shares a couple pages of their work and they read it aloud and then there are a few mins for critique. So, I mention to annoying older man (almost a caricature of the know it all) that he’s got his dialogue punctuated incorrectly. There’s really no wiggle room on that. And he says to me (mind you, no published books to his credit and I am a paid editor), “No, you’re wrong.” I was taken aback and pushed a bit, but when he again told me I was wrong (“That’s really more of an artistic choice”) I just said, “Well, it’s your book. Suit yourself.” Then the leader of the group tactfully backed me up but he’s still sure he’s right.

    It really made me mad, but I also laughed at what a total jerk he was. Next time I’ll just make my corrections on the paper and hand it back.

    I’m planning to share at the group for the first time tomorrow night…if he’s there, I’m sure he’ll have plenty of suggestions for my book. I’m going to take a book on legal stuff for fiction writers, so I’m sure he’ll tell me I don’t know the law either.

    Sorry for the long post. But thanks for the therapy session. 🙂

  4. Cara Bristol says:

    That’s the flip side of “mansplaining,”(when a man explains what a woman already knows)–he won’t accept the expertise of a woman who knows what she’s talking about.

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