Home > Writing > Twelve Things You Shouldn’t Say to a Writer

Twelve Things You Shouldn’t Say to a Writer

  1. “Why haven’t you published your novel, yet?” (Pause) “Why not? Can’t you just find a publisher?” Yes, yes, I can. I don’t know why I’m dragging my feet. Perhaps it’s because I’m too busy chasing after a leprechaun and his magic pot of gold. Or I’m lazy.
  2. “Why haven’t you found an agent yet?” Wait, the agent’s LOST? Damn, here I was thinking I needed to query agents. Apparently, I just need to submit a missing person’s report. Who knew?
  3. “You know, I want to write a novel. I have all these great ideas. I just never have the time.” Because time grows on trees. It’s not something you make, right? And, you know, IDEAS are enough to make something happen.
  4. “Why isn’t your poetry easy to understand?” Why is your baby ugly? Seriously, what kind of question IS that? Sometimes, unfortunately for you, you have to think. Meaning isn’t dropped on your head from a four-story window. If anything, that’s a piano—in which case, RUN!
  5. Hey, if you’re famous someday, will you help me prompt my novel/screenplay/slam poetry?” Yes, if I’m famous that’s EXACTLY what I’m going to do – focus on YOU. That’ll be my sole purpose in life.
  6. “Why don’t you write a book about [insert trend here]?” Gee, I don’t know. Why don’t you, if it’s that easy? It’s not like I need to have a story idea or a plot or anything. I can just sit down and write out the next blockbuster hit about wizards who are also vampires, learning spells at an academy in Narnia. Of course, they aren’t your run-of-the-mill vampires – they’re vampires who like DISCO! Or I could write a bestseller about werewolves locked in an epic battle with zombies, who are busy trying to fend off the Bennett sisters.
  7. “Would you look at my novel/screenplay/short story?” No, no, no. A world of no. What would I then do if your writing, well, sucked? Danger! Danger, Will Robinson! Now, if you want me to proofread something, I could be persuaded, but there’s a small fee involved. It usually includes COFFEE.
  8. “Isn’t writing easy?” Just go away before I smite you. That’s like asking a lawyer if law school is a walk in the park. The short answer is NO. The long answer involves me verbally stringing you up and letting a pack of wild word-dogs ravage you for your insulting supposition.
  9. “Can I read your manuscript?” Sure. As soon as you give me a publishing contract. In other words, no. Unless I ask for your advice, I don’t want you to read it. I’m most likely filled with abject terror that it sucks – and that the literary community will mock it for years to come. I will not share it with you, my mail person, or the guy I bump into at the coffee shop. I CAN’T HANDLE THE PRESSURE. *ahem*
  10. “Hey, did [insert thing that happened in novel/short story] this happen to you?” Unless it’s an autobiography, NO. Fiction. Creative writing. I am not writing my life story, yet. When I do, though, it is going to be EPIC. Or, at the very least, I can get back at that one kid was made my life HELL in grade school. I mean…*sheepish look*
  11. “Why do you write?” Gee, I don’t know. Why do you ask odd questions?
  12. “You don’t need to finish the novel before you query. Just have a really good first chapter, right? I mean, that’s all agents look at.” Exactly. Good advice. It’s a bad idea to have a finished project before asking people to put their name behind it. And agents really don’t want to read the full manuscript. That’s just SILLY. Thank you for being an expert on all things literary.
Categories: Writing Tags: ,
  1. Jessica
    November 1, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Figures that when I switched to a new blogging platform I would manage to pick the one you didn’t pick. Epic. Fail.

    • Ali
      November 1, 2010 at 3:51 pm

      Hahaha. Or it was me (I?) who chose incorrectly? Who knows. *grin* I couldn’t decide between Blogger and WordPress. I had a Blogger many moons ago, so I picked the one I never tried.

  2. November 1, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    Loved the list. I remember a very good friend of mine looking at a FIRST draft of my novel, that I had left up on my computer, “I found three misspelled words,” she said this with a slight rolling of the eyes. “You can’t be an author if you can’t spell”.

    Few outside writing know what it’s like to want to get the idea down as it clarifies in your mind and screw spelling if need be till it’s done.

    I tried to explain editing… Her reply? “Just do it right the first time, then you can write twenty books a year.” Arrrg!

  3. Andrea
    November 4, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    I have a great idea for a time machine. I just can never seem to find the time to build it…

    • Ali
      November 4, 2010 at 9:25 pm

      Does it involve a Delorean? *grin*

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