Wednesday, December 12, 2012

9 Things Not To Ask a Writer

1) Have you written anything I've heard of?
--This is like asking a plumber if he's worked on any toilets you've pooped in. Odds are unless you're quite a well-known author, like John Grisham or the Kardashians, you've haven't written something they've heard of. Plus, how the hell are you supposed to know what they have and haven't heard of? Just say 'yes', walk away and delete their contact from your phone.

2) Are you writing anything at the moment?
--At the moment, we're talking to you, so no. But we plan on drinking copiously, then going home to continue writing so that we may one day answer 'yes' to the above question.

3) Are they going to make a movie from your book?
--Again, this presumes you're published, have a film deal in place, and all the freaky things that can happen in the Go-Gurt machine of Hollywood work out so that Tom Cruise is one day being interviewed about what it feels like to interpret 'your' character. So unless this is currently the case, you'll have to explain that you have about as much influence as to whether or not a movie gets made from your book as an accountant has of rigging the Powerball for you. Once again the safe bet is to answer 'maybe', then follow guidelines from answer #2.

4) Are any characters based on people from your life?
--Odds are, yes. And if not fully lifted from your life, then certain traits are for sure. But you're not about to tell them that the main character's impotency stems from the confessions of your cousin Paul, or that the anxious, bed-ridden alcoholic thrice-divorced mess is based on your aunt Lorraine, so answer 'maybe' then ask if you can record everything they're saying for possible future use in one of your books.

5) How much money did you get for your book?
--You'd be surprised that, yes, people do actually ask this question. They're the same people who, when meeting a friend's baby for the first time, jokingly ask the husband, "Are you sure it's yours?" Simply ask for their social security number and to see their most recent bank statements, then laugh and say it's just for research. And if they're stupid enough to give it to you, steal all their money and give it to The Human Fund.

6) Where do you get your ideas from?
--Since most writers get their ideas from the exact same place--that netherworld known as 'I have no idea' and 'beats the hell out of me'--just respond with "from the Internet" and repeat the answer to #2.

7) Can I give you an idea for your next book?
--First off, nobody asked you. Do we walk into your job at the mortuary and ask if we can touch up deceased Uncle Walter? For some reason, people think you're constantly scouring the earth looking for ideas for your next book, waiting for a stranger to politely offer to lend you the story of the time they burnt their tongue eating a slice of pizza because it would be the perfect motivation for your villain's murderous rampage in the third act.

8) Will you read my manuscript and critique it?
--Sure! And let me guess--this request comes from your Aunt's friend's son who's been a corporate lawyer for the last five years but is tired of the grind and feels he wants to be creative? Never seen that before! Besides, we'd like nothing better than to curl up on our couch with a 500-page monstrosity written by a complete stranger, which will take 8-10 hours to read, then sit down with a red pen and give you an edit letter than Maxwell Perkins would have been proud of. Do you realize how long it takes to read a book? And that writers get paid based on their output and producticity? Ask this lawyer friend for 10 hours of free legal advice in exchange and see if he jumps at the office.

9) Have you read those 'Twilight' or 'Harry Potter' books?
--Because we all know those people who've never heard of a single book until the movie comes out. Tell them that you only read old papyrus scrolls, that the novel died in 84 BCE, and anyone who participates in witchcraft or vampiredom should be burned at the stake. (and FWIW you're team Jacob)


Anonymous Roni O'Connell said...

So you're a writer? Huh. I've got this great idea and some afternoon I'm going to sit down and shoot out a book too.

4:12 PM  
Blogger Catherine Bybee said...

*snort* Yep... it's like that!

12:35 PM  

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