I’ve done a lot of talking about fantasy, writing, and reading on my blog. Today, I thought I would talk about the ordinary side of things. I’ve come up with ten things people ask or say to me when I tell them I’m a writer. Much like things people say to you when you’re pregnant (You’re going to have your hands full.) or taller than average (Are you a basketball player?). I’m not tall, just average. But I do know a few tall people in my life and they’ve told me how annoying it is when people assume they like basketball. There are questions for every stage of life. I’m sure you can name a few things you hear all the time.
These are questions or comments that get old fast. But, I, also, think they are just a part of ordinary life. It’s how we show interest in someone else. It’s how we get to know people. On the one hand, meeting someone new can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re meeting a lot of new people at once, and so these questions come easily to our mind and it seems better than standing in awkward silence. On the other hand, I think it is worth considering the questions we can pull out of a hat on short notice. Instead of saying, “How many kids do you have?” it would probably be better to say “Do you have any kids?” or better yet, “Tell me about yourself.” No one likes to be put in a box. Say you asked someone who has been struggling to have kids for years the first question, how would that make them feel? Even the second question might make them uneasy. Not only that, but what happens when you ask someone, out of curiosity, where they are from? This seemingly innocent question that was probably fine to ask a few years ago, today can hold so much weight behind it. Why is it important to know where someone’s accent is from? Is it not better to wait for them to volunteer that information freely?
As for what questions or comments I’ve been asked as a writer, some of them are perfectly fine as curiosity questions and I even encourage you to ask them, but others might be better changed. Maybe we can find a better way to make conversations. Let me know if you’ve heard these questions before or what others constantly assume about you that isn’t true.
10 Things People Say When They Discover Your a Writer:
1. What do you write? A pretty generic question but also a very logical choice. I write fantasy novels, poems, blog posts, and others. This is such a broad question that I usually say what I am working on in that moment like a fantasy trilogy. Which turns into the detailed bit about how I’m editing this piece and outlining that piece and writing something new as well. I’m sure that wasn’t what they were asking. I’ll have to get better at not answering the unspoken quesitons.
2. Are you published? Once I admit that I haven’t published a book yet, there are usually one of two responses: I have a friend who got published, you should totally talk to him/her about how to do it, or Let me know when you get published and I’ll read your book. There are other responses but I get these a lot. Both are meant to be encouraging, I think. But what works for one author won’t necessarily work for another. And people may say they want to read my book, but usually at this point in the conversation they don’t have a clue what my book is about, what makes them think they’ll like my book? I don’t particularly want to read everything everyone I know has written. I just don’t have the time for that and we all have different tastes. How can we be better at supporting people, and helping them fulfill their dreams? I think probably getting more information first would be ideal. If you find out your writer friend has been trying to get published but has had no luck so far, then it might be a good idea to try and hook him/her up with someone who has had success.
3. Are you going to self-publish? Man, this is a loaded question! There are pros and cons to both self-publishing and traditional publishing. There are some negative connotations linked with self-publishing mainly because there is such a wide range of quality among indie authors. Some just put their work out before they edit it and those are what give the self-published authors a bad name. I’ve read both kinds of indie authors and it just means that if you do self-publish and you actually want your work to be read by people who aren’t your friends and family you have to be really good at marketing and your work better be excellent.
4. How’s the book coming along? This is actually a pretty good question. I love to talk about what I’m writing and everything related to it. I wouldn’t ask this question if you don’t want me to talk for the next ten to hundred twenty minutes non-stop.
5. What made you want to be a writer? Okay, so maybe I just want to be asked this question. I have heard it a few times but not as often as the others. I’m a story teller, and want to tell you the story of how I was in a book club that renewed my interest in books and then I was in a bible study that gave me a great idea for a book and then I sat down to write it and fell in love with writing!
6. Do you have a favorite playlist? Not really. I enjoy listening to soundtracks and instrumental music while I write but often I’m not listening to anything. Do you have a favorite playlist you want to share with me? I’m open to suggestions.
7. It’ll be great when you’re rich and famous! Ha! I’m not writing to get rich. Besides, most writers are not rich or famous.
8. So, what do you really do for work? This is like the opposite of the last comment. It’s like saying, writing is just a hobby and will never be a good enough job to provide for yourself. For some writers it is just a hobby and for others, they can actually make enough to live off of. For me, I love to write. I don’t need to work because I have a wonderful supportive husband who provides all my needs. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to give it my all and try to be a super awesome author!
9. How do you find the time to write with three boys to take care?Usually, this is said with the idea that they couldn’t possibly find the time to write something themselves. It’s all a matter of priorities and wants. I love to write. Of course, I’m going to find time to write in between the grocery shopping, cooking, playing with boys, teaching them life lessons, cleaning the house and every other ordinary thing happening in my life. It’s easy, because it’s something I could do indefinitely without getting sick of it or bored. I have to make more of an effort to make sure I’m not neglecting my family. They are quite wonderful, you know, and I am so blessed to have them in my life.
10. That’s Cool. They smile and nod and have a vague look in the eyes. You can tell they’re actuallyremembering their to do list. That’s when I try to ask them more about themselves.
Talk to me. What are you tired of hearing? Are there questions you would like to be asked but no one ever seems interested enough? Do you remember the first time you bought shoes?
And if you didn’t catch the book of the month, we’re reading Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve this month.