There are certain utterances that cause writers to roll their eyes back, grab the nearest weapon-like object and start swinging. (Okay, maybe not actually swinging, but in our heads, boy are we creating mayhem!) We understand that people whose only connection to the writing business don’t really “get” what we do, and may only be trying to say something that sounds like writing talk. (That’s why we don’t really hit anyone. We’re usually kind people.) We’re smiling on the outside, but on the inside, we’re screaming. So the next time you’re meeting a professional writer, avoid saying the following things:
1. I buy all my books at the flea market, because spending more than fifty cents for a book is highway robbery.
Yep, a perfectly reasonable grownup said this to me not long ago, during a conversation about when my next book would be coming out in stores. I agree that books have become more expensive since I was a kid, as has milk, gasoline, clothing and houses. And if you want to buy only used books from the flea market, by all means do so. It’s a very green thing to do! But calling the price of my new book highway robbery is essentially telling me you refuse to buy it. Let me dream that I’ll make a few sales, ‘kay?
2. When you finish writing that book, just send it to me by email.
No. When I finish writing it, I’ll send it to my agent by email. I don’t care if you’re my sister, my best friend or my boss, you have to wait and read it when it’s edited.
3. Why don’t you write a bestseller, like that Harry Potter guy?
Gee, I wish I had thought of that. Selling millions of copies would be a good idea, wouldn’t it? This tends to be more of a family-uttered comment than strangers, but I do hear it from time to time from coworkers. Trust me, I’m trying to write a bestseller, and you’ll know when it finally happens.
4. Will you put me in one of your books?
You really don’t want this. You think you do, but what you’re hoping for is for me to write a physically gorgeous, dashing hero who saves the day. In reality, if I did this at all, I’d either make you a walk-on who has no part in the plot, or else I’d kill you. Better that you read the book and imagine yourself in the role of the hero. We’ll all be happier.
5. I have a friend/relative/coworker who wants to be a writer, so I sent her your personal email address.
Most writers enjoy answering questions from earnest neophytes. It reminds us of when we were young and innocent of the wicked ways of the publishing world. That’s why I have a website with an email address specifically for my professional side. The personal address is for family and friends. So now you’ve given out the email address I use to keep my sanity to a complete stranger. Thanks.
6. Why can’t you write at work? You’re in a library, after all.
Ah yes, the library. Where all is calm, all is peaceful. Except when the 8th graders show up on the wrong day to check out books and end up overlapping with the 7th graders. Or when the chess club comes in to play at lunch time. Or when all the guidance counselors in the district show up for a meeting. Yes, it’s a library, but people use it. People who need help, which is what I’m here for. It’s very hard to get into a groove when you have a job to do already. Next time you’re in a library, watch the circulation desk, and then you’ll know why I can’t get a lot of writing done at work.
These are just six I’ve heard in the last week. Share yours, if you like. 😀