Saturday, July 17, 2010

Writer's Version of Don't Ask-Don't Tell, Part II

I got real comments from my last blog on this subject, which went to my head. Actual readers! I had a suggestion from my spouse shortly thereafter, and I overheard another frequently asked question today, while she was discussing her new book. They've been burning a hole in my writing pocket since:

  • Why don't you write about (subject that has nothing to do with your projects)? You'd be really good at it. (I could do a horror story about dry socket, too, but I have no inclination to do that, either.)
  • Why don't you do ___ with your character? (This generates one of two responses: a) because that's idiotic, or b) great idea, but now I can't do it because you'd demand to 'split the profits'. Ain't happening.)
  • You based this character on me, didn't you? (Trust me, if I did, you wouldn't have to ask. I've written roman à clef before. I give 'tells'. Like a character who thinks everything is about her.)
  • You based this character on (other friend or relative), didn't you? (See above. However, if it makes you happy to think I've zinged Uncle Fred, go ahead.)
  • Why do you bother writing? You're never going to make any money at it. (Neither does watching TV, drinking, or smoking. In other words, f--k off.) 
  •  Haven't you finished that book yet? (DAMN YOU TO HELL!)
Another question I get a lot: What is your book about? I've decided that although this got annoying after the third person asked, it gives me the chance to practice my 'pitch'.

Perhaps I should talk about annoying questions writers get from other writers next. Unfortunately, I'm probably the asker.

Another question that came up in the comments from the first article: You're a writer? Where have you been published? Naturally, not all writers are published authors. This doesn't mean they're not writers, it just means they don't have published works yet.

I don't have a snappy answer for this one. Do you know why? Because I rarely told people outside the writing community of my ambitions until I was published. I received too many negative comments about wanting to be a writer while I was growing up. As an adult, I didn't spring that little secret on non-writers without something to show for it. By the time I 'came out' as an author at work, I'd edited two Pagan newsletters, received some local recognition as a political blogger, and had several published stories.

I salute the unpublished writers who are willing to 'go public' and deal with this last question. You're braver than I am. Might I suggest that you simply tell them that you're still revising your novel?


Ann said...

As an unpublished writer who is very public about the fact that I'm writing a novel, I've actually been quite lucky so far and had nothing but encouragement.

I decided to be upfront about it mostly because I spend every spare minute writing, reading about writing, talking about writing - and avoiding writing.

But also it's helping to keep me on track - people keep asking me about how it's going and I can't keep saying, Oh I'm still struggling with Chapter Three. That's how I'm now struggling with Chapter Ten...

But as it comes up to the two year anniversary of my first story getting shortlisted - and I'm still not published - it does start to feel like I should be trying harder, doing better.

Part of it is that I haven't got my act together about sending stories out yet, but I'm beginning to do a little better on that.

Anyway, time to get on with Chapter Ten!

Sarah G said...

It took a long time to get my first fiction story published. I wrote for a while, creating several stories, before I got lucky. What a thrill that was!

As for the newsletters: I did have a big advantage there. When people wanted to know what qualified me, I could tell them I had a degree in journalism. That was my 'compromise' degree from college.

Ruschelle Dillon said...

You could always tell these peeps that you would be more than happy to write their obituary for them. LOL