Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Commonly Asked Questions of an Unpubbed

The five most asked (and most annoying) questions people ask if they somehow figure out I'm a writer.

1. Why aren't you published?

2. You know that famous author XXX? I heard it only took her one month to write her book and she got an agent the very next day and it was published the very next week and she got a jillion dollar advance. Why don't you write a story like hers? 

3. Your story sounds interesting, but I have a REALLY good story you should write...want to hear it and then after you write it and get super rich we could split the profits? Fifty-fifty, of course, since I came up with the idea and everyone knows ideas are protected by copyright.

4. Why don't you write something meaningful, like your Grandma's life story or something, instead of that fiction stuff?

5. Why DO you write, anyway?

How can I respond other than with courtesy and patience? Out loud, anyway. They have no idea what it feels like to have something you love rejected, to tear it apart and try again, or to abandon it altogether. They probably can't even understand what would possess someone to do what most likely they've loathed and dreaded all through their lives: writing.

1. Why aren't you published?
Real Answer:
"Publishing is a very tough business, but I'm happy with my efforts so far."
Defensive, Internal Answer:
"You obviously have even less of an idea of what the publishing industry is like than I do! Maybe I'm not published because I just suck as a writer and I have terrible ideas! Would you like some vinegar or are you fine with pouring salt in the wound?"

2. Why don't you write what XXX bestselling author wrote when she sold her first novel in two seconds flat?
Real Answer:
"It happens like that for some authors and I'm very happy it does. As for writing what he/she writes, every author's style is his or her own."
Not so Nice Answer:
"Really? I'm supposed to regurgitate what a bestselling author wrote and expect to find myself on easy street? Is that how anything else in life works?"

3. Want to write my idea and split the profits?
Real Answer:
"Actually, coming up with my own ideas is what makes writing so rewarding. Maybe you should try your hand at writing, you might like it."
Evil Twin Answer:
(Several seconds of deep belly laughs). "Nice one. Oh, you're serious? I have a better idea, why don't you write a three hundred page novel about MY idea? Then I can see it come to life and collect half the profits...which would be slim, by the way. You don't want to? Why, because writing is hard? Yes, yes it is. At this stage in my career, if I'm gonna write my heart out for anyone it's gonna be me."

4. Why don't you write something better/more meaningful than fiction? What about Granny's life story?
Real Answer:
"Fiction makes us laugh, cry, fall in love and experience every type of emotion in the human condition. Everyone's tastes are so different, maybe my story would be meaningful to someone. In any case, since I am unpublished and unpaid, I should at least write what I enjoy."
Annoyed Answer:
"Oh get off your high horse."

5. Why do you write, anyway?
Real Answer:
"Because I really enjoy it. It's my favorite, most beloved medium. I like writing long emails and long posts; I like writing better than talking. Most of all, I love writing stories, because I can be anyone in any place. I can control how it all happens and I can discover ways I didn't expect a story to turn out. And there are so many stories that run through my head, some of them just for me, but others I want to see on paper and experience somehow. It's how I feel most real, most like my self. I love writing. Some people live, breathe and eat football or cars or movies or cooking or MTV... it's what makes them happy. Writing is hard, but it makes me happy."

My real answer is my only answer.

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