Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dos and Don'ts (Mostly Don'ts)

As a member of the Absolute Write Water Cooler (where I tend to go to procrastinate, so in hindsight, maybe joining wasn't such a great idea), I often mosey on over to more people's blogs. Often more than I would under normal circumstances. Procrastination. What can I say?

But I have found a few fun nuggets. The other day I found this by Kate Hart, aspiring YA writer, and it got me thinking about how I react to certain questions people put to me when I tell them I'm a writer. First off, do these. But that's pretty much after you're published, so those don't really apply to me (yet). For now, keep these in mind when it comes to questions not to ask:

  • "So what's the book is about?" Frankly, I hate this question. I'm willing to tell you what genre it is, and that's pretty much it. Summing up my book(s) to people on a constant basis ruffles my feathers. Mostly because I'm uncomfortable divulging summaries about works that are fantasy or SF since basically everyone asking me doesn't really read those genres. Likewise a lot of people that don't tend to think poorly of them, which leads into the next point.

  • "Are you seriously writing that?" Exactly what Kate said: Don't be condescending. Nothing sucks more than a person who disses on your book/genre/the fact that you call it work. I've been lucky in that I've only ever experienced one jackass who stated that he thought F/SF was lame and then for some bizarre reason proceeded to grill me about my book. I can't remember the last time I was that uncomfortable. And yes, writing a novel is a pain. You write over 70,000 words and see how easy it is. Just because we choose to do it and yes, it is fun sometimes, it doesn't mean it's all candy and roses. Why else do you think not everyone aspires to be an author?

  • "Can I read it?" I've actually let two people that have asked this question read my work. I trusted them for several reasons, 1.) I was in high school and they were good friends 2.) they weren't writers so they sure as hell weren't going to steal it 3.) the writing was far from being good enough anyway, 4.) it was all handwritten. These days, I again agree with Kate. Read my book when it's published, okay? I'd like to get paid for all my hard work too, you know.

  • "When will it be published?" I guess since I said you can't read it now, you want to know when you can. Look, if a person says, "I'm writing a book," please pay attention to verb tense. You took basic English in school right? You should know that "writing" means in the process of doing so. That means it's not finished. Only when you're told that the book is going to be published by so-and-so publisher can you ask for the date.

  • "When are you going on Oprah?" I thought this one was actually kind of funny. If anyone ever asked me that, I'd probably look at the person like he was a moron. Take a look at Oprah's book list and tell me when she's ever read a F/SF book. Either way, yeah, don't ask this because it's truly a stupid question. Oprah picks the books to read, not the other way around. And they're usually depressing or generally emo in some way.

  • "So will you be like [insert ultra-famous author here]?" No. Not unless I'm the next luckiest sonofabitch that walked the Earth. For some reason, people tend to think that just because a handful of authors make 6 figures (or more), the majority of authors do. In fact, the majority of authors DO NOT and have to bust ass to keep producing books for readers just to make a comfortable living. Hell, you're lucky if your book ends up as a modeled title (a certain number of books has to be in the store) at Barnes & Noble.

  • "Why don't you write about [subject in no way related/similar to what you're writing]?" Because I don't like it or I can't do it. Personally, I just can't do mystery and am awed by people who can come up with new scenarios as to why there's a dead body in the next room over and over and over again. By the way asker, you may be working in an office - why don't you work on a crab fishing boat instead, hmm?

  • "Is that sex scene autobiographical?" I laughed when I saw this one. I've never been asked this and though I might be a little "..Uuuh...." if I were, I could easily answer. NO. (I was watching you.)

  • "Do I get a free copy when it's published?" NO. GO BUY THE BOOK. I'm not a fan of this question, yet I hear it all the time, or I hear it in statement format, "I'd better get a copy when it's published!" Yeah, sure. I just took a year or longer to put this together, spent God knows how much on stamps and paper and ink and envelopes just to land an agent, waited another year or more for the agent to sell it, and another year or longer for it to actually come out in it's published form. I don't understand why people, even if only marginally acquainted with me feel they're entitled to free stuff. But I always smile and laugh and say, "Sure." (Though the real answer, again, is NO.)

  • "Why isn't it dedicated to me?" I've never had this question either, or any varation thereof, but I'd probably just look at the person as though he had issues. Don't be a greedy prick. Writers take inspiration and strength from all walks of life. And by the way, how do you know you're not in the dedications? And if you're not in the first book, how do you know you're not in the second? Either way, if you're not, then you obviously aren't special enough. Get over yourself.

  • "Is it any good?" Again, never had this question. Most of us writers tend to think it's good. We'll know the truth when we find an agent or editor. Until then, yes. And when it gets published, then yes. How the hell do we know what you'll think of it?

  • "Am I in it?" Kate said she hates this question. I got this all the time and it always made me laugh. I think I may have ranted about this question sometime in the past, actually. When you hear this question enough, then yes, it can get annoying. What people fail to consider though, is that you might be in the book. And you might be a character that dies. Eh? How about them apples? I use friends and create characters for them and once handed them out as Christmas gifts. Hell, I eventually wrote a book using all of them (needs revising). Generally speaking though, don't ask this because 99% of the time the answer is going to be a resounding NO. Even if the person you're asking dances around the question. They're dancing around it because the answer is either no, or they killed you (or just seriously f*cked you up).

Print this out writers, and pass it around to your friends and family. Maybe they'll never bother you about your writing again. Haha. And for non-writers, well, now you know better. ;D

1 comment:

jeffwinbush said...

Huh. I haven't heard all of those questions, but I'm sure everyone who's ever tried to write a book has heard some of those questions.