Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Writer's Version of Don't Ask-Don't Tell

Inkygirl has put her pencil nib on a few of the annoying things writers (especially non-famous ones) deal with when their non-writing friends learn that they are writers.

Here are ones I've heard, with less-than-polite truthful answers:
  • I have this great idea for a book. (Unless you are another writer, 99% chance it's not. If you are a writer, 85% chance it's not. Please limit your pitch to query-letter length.)
  • Why don't you make my great idea into a book, and we can split the profits? (Why don't YOU write it, since it's your story? If you expect ME to write it, that split will be 1% to you for inspiration and 99% to me for perspiration, as per Thomas Edison.)
  • I had this dream last night. I'm sure it would make a great book. (Gaaahhh! Please, please don't tell it to me!)
  • Let me tell you about it in great detail. (Nooooo! Please stop! Why didn't I schedule that root canal for today? I'm sure there's a dentist somewhere that works on Saturday.)
  • Where do you get your ideas? (Good ideas come from the Muses. Not sure where the f--- mine come from, but people aren't buying them. Oh, wait, I have these dreams... let me tell YOU about my latest one in great detail.)
  • Writing is easy. You just get an idea and write it down. (Yeah, which is why it took three years to write my first novel and why my psychiatrist is trying 60mg of Lexapro on me for my 'existential angst').
  • I'd like to write a novel. If only I had the time like you do. (Based on your blow-by-blow description of "Jersey Couture", I'd say that you DO have the time. There are authors who've finished books while working two jobs, raising children, etc. It's not time, it's the trouble that stops you. Come to think of it, that's why it took me three years to write my first novel.)
  • Once you sell that novel, you'll be able to sit back and let the royalties roll in. (You really don't know anything about the publishing industry or the current book market, do you? Thanks for your confidence, though.)
If any writers out there are reading this post (is that crickets I hear?), please add the questions and comments YOU'D rather not hear again. I need to be prepared.


Ann said...

Oh yes, I've heard lots of these.

Why don't you write my book for me, if only I had the time...

Haven't you finished that novel yet (that one hurts)

Who do you think you are?


Sarah G said...

I feel your pain on finishing the novel. I worry about finishing short stories, too.

Who do you think you are... I take it they're saying it's not your place to be a writer? How awful! I got the 'You'll never make any money at it' and 'I'm not paying for you to go to college to study that'.

Ann said...

Oh yes, that was the idea - definitely not my place. Too big for my boots in general. My stepmother, that was, when I first wanted to write as a teenager and was stupid enough to say so.

Still, I learned to stop telling her. I just wished I'd told her I wanted to be a train driver or an astronaut ;)

Crimson said...

As a writer who has yet to publish in any big name publications the one i hate is Your a writer? really so where have you published. yeah ok so maybe its only been a school lit journal here or there but who says i need to justify my passion to you?

Kathy said...

A co-worker once said, "I'm sure I could write a book, if someone would just tell me what to write ABOUT."

I've been kicking myself for years for not telling her.

Ramona said...

A commonly heard comment, pre-JK Rowling, to any children's book author: "When are you going to write a REAL book?"

Sarah G said...

Ramona: I got that same line, but about my horror novel! No, I don't share writerly ambitions with THAT aunt any more...

Kaye George said...

The one I get the most often is the one about taking "my idea" and writing a book and splitting the profits. I like your split. Sounds fair.

Cute post!

Diane Vallere said...

My personal fave from the wife of a movie producer: "Novels? Wow, you're so brave. There's no money in that." !!!

Debi Huff said...

I like-"Can I read what you have so far?" Sure. You are qualified to judge my writing and my ideas.
And then there's "I'd love to read it as you write and critique it for you." I don't think I'll fall for that one. I know who I trust to critique my writing.