I have no comment at this time.

I really enjoyed Jim’s entry from yesterday. Not just for the opportunity to watch his hypochondriac tendencies in full force, but also because it really got at the heart of why you all do what it is you do. I love learning things like that. Whenever I speak to a potential new client, the first question I ask is why they decided to write their novel, memoir, etc. For whatever reason, the writing takes on a lot more meaning for me when I know what or who brought the writer to put words down on paper.

No doubt, the response to Jim’s post was fantastic. If there’s one thing writers feel strongly about, it is their motivations behind writing. And rightfully so: without a real passion to write, what’s the point? So then I started to wonder about the flipside to this. What about when people ask questions of a writer that they don’t necessarily want to hear? Because people mean well; of course they do. But who really wants to hear things like

1. So you’re a writer…What do you write?
2. Are you still writing that novel?
3. Are you done yet?
4. Can I be a character in your book?
5. Do you think you’ll ever ACTUALLY get published?

Do you, as a writer, ever get questions that make you cringe?

18 Responses to I have no comment at this time.

  1. Josin says:

    Can I read it?

    Why do you want to write for kids? Can’t you write real books?

    Why are you editing? Isn’t that an editor’s job?

    Do you want to hear my idea for a story?

    Would you “help” me write my story?

  2. Kim Meyer says:

    I agree with Josin! “Can I read it?” is one of the worst questions.

    Also, “Are you done yet?” People really underestimate the amount of time it takes to write and edit a book.

  3. Kaitlyne says:

    “Can I read it” doesn’t really bother me. I generally just say it’s not finished yet and that works well enough. 😉

    The thing that really bothers me isn’t a question, but a statement I’ve gotten a couple of times: “I know a good publisher that’s really cheap.”

    It always makes me cringe because the person clearly doesn’t understand how the process works, and I’m never quite sure how to respond to it. Generally speaking when someone says this it’s because they know someone else who used the service, so I hate saying, “No thanks, I don’t want to self-publish” and risk hurting someone’s feelings. Similarly, I always dislike being told that I should just put out an e-book on Amazon instead, which I’ve gotten a few times as well.

    Generally speaking, though, I don’t talk much about my writing to people, which solves the problem. I’ve also learned to keep answers short and simple.

  4. Lizzie Friend says:

    The worst?

    “So, um, whatever happened to that novel you were writing?”


    (Unless, of course, your answer is: Comes out next fall, booyah!)

    I also hate (upon hearing you’re an aspiring writer): “I always thought I’d be really good at writing novels.”

    Don’t we all, friend. Don’t we all.

  5. Suzi McGowen says:

    I can’t decide what’s worse. The cringe inducing questions above, or the fact that no one, ever, asks me how it’s going, when I’ll be published, etc.

    The closest anyone ever came to talking about my writing was when my son said (in a quiet voice), “Sometimes I like to imagine that your book is published.” (It was a very sweet moment.)

  6. J. Koyanagi says:

    “You should write [insert topic or genre] instead.”

  7. Mine isn’t so much a question, (although that long look down the nose with the, “Oh! Are your books for sale anywhere?” remark is one that frankly gets on my last nerve…) as it is the following comment: “Let me tell you about the book I’M thinking of writing…”

    I once got cornered on a plane with a guy who was toying with the idea of writing a novel from the perspective of a velociraptor leading a pack of other velociraptors and the premise was pretty much how these dinos were plotting how best to take over the world before the meteor hit. I. Kid. You. Not.

  8. EEV says:

    The one I hate the most:

    “See, I have this idea, it’ll make millions, it’ll be a movie. I’ll give you the idea, you just have to write it and send it to the publishers, and then you can give me 80% of the profit!”

    Why does people assume writing is easy?

  9. Lisa Marie says:

    Almost everyone I know thinks that I’m solely a business/finance/law writer. I avoid pesky questions by deferring to this:

    “The first rule of writing a novel is don’t talk about writing a novel.”

    — Me

  10. Anonymous says:

    I get these after I tell people I like to write Christian science fiction and Christian fantasy.
    “Oh, like Left Behind.”
    “So it’s like Narnia?”

    Sometimes, writers are the ones who ask me those questions. Even though I like to write Christian science fiction and fantasy, my stories are not like Narnia or Left Behind so it annoys me when people jump to conclusions.

  11. Michael G-G says:

    Perhaps you should try writing short stories first?

  12. Ciara says:

    Yeah I get the “Oh I have this idea, you can have it if you want.” Right because I can’t think of my own ideas thanks. Or when people don’t understand the first thing about publishing. I mean there is no reason why they should but don’t talk about it like you do!!

  13. 1. In an email: Here’s the novel I’m writing. Would you read it and tell me what you think?

    2. Oh. You write *those* books. (Romance) Those are terrible. (Yet if you ask if they’ve ever read a romance, the answer is always, no. So, how do they know? Often, when you ask about books they’ve read and enjoyed, what do you know? Some of them are romances.)

  14. Sherri says:

    Apparently I exude the air of a published author, because people are always asking where they can buy my book. It’s awkward telling them I’m not published

  15. Tracy Jorgensen says:

    I know they mean well, but people ask some hard questions. Things like: How far have you gotten? (Which isn’t so bad in and of itself but it eventually leads to…) How much longer until its finished? Another doozy: Have you figured out the ending yet? (Yes! Yes, I have.)

    One more interesting one: Where do you get your ideas? This one doesn’t seem so bad but the follow up conversation about how they want to write but have no ideas is awkward. You want to offer helpful advice, but the creative process is different for everyone.

    And last, and certainly my favorite: When you’re published, can I have a free copy?

  16. Heather Bitzer says:

    I will answer with an assist from that literary genius, Stewie Griffin from Family Guy!

  17. Sari Webb says:

    Definitely the question: “When are you getting published?” Like it’s safe to assume it’s a done deal. Trying to explain the publishing industry to non writers/industry porfessionals can be painful.

  18. Tamara Linse says:

    The well-meaning “Oh, I have a book in my head too. All I have to do is write it!”

    I know they mean well, I know they’re trying to connect, but the dismissive, “Oh, all I have to do is write it,” drives me bonkers!

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