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Bubastes
11-29-2006, 06:14 PM
Mini-rant (not enough coffee yet this a.m.):

My Dad, who is well-meaning but a bit self-absorbed and clueless, inspired this "stupid things to say to a writer" thread. Any time the topic of writing comes up (which is not often because I refuse to talk about it these days), he says, "You know who's made a lot of money writing? Harold Robbins! You could be like him!" Yes, he's said this more than once.

Um, yeah. You'd think he'd at least pick a better, or at least more recent example, like Dan Brown. :Shrug: Not that either of them write litfic, romance, or food essays (my genres).

The pathetic part is that he has no clue what I write, nor does he bother asking me (like I said, self-absorbed). Oh, and he's never even read Harold Robbins's books. If he did, I don't think he'd be so eager for me to write "like him."

So, what are some stupid things people have said to you (besides the trusty "I want to write someday" or "I could have written [insert name of story here] if I had the time")?

TrainofThought
11-29-2006, 06:24 PM
I try to stay away from writing topics, but a month ago my aunt asked the title of my book. I told her the title with others sitting around and she said, along with another, “What? I don’t know that word. I don’t like the title, so you need to change it.” Being the smart a$$ I am I responded, “I don’t care whether you like it or not. If you don’t know the word, you definitely aren’t part of my target audience.” She shut up, we moved onto another topic and I doubt we will be discussing my book again.

James D. Macdonald
11-29-2006, 06:36 PM
"I have a great idea for a book! You write it and we'll split the money."

"Gee, you must be rich!"

"I've always wanted to write but I've never had the time."

SherryTex
11-29-2006, 06:38 PM
Ouch.

Okay, so your Dad thinks you should write like Harold Robbins, might ask why? Better yet, ask which book. Might tell him why you like writing what you write. Show him one of your recent pieces and ask him what he thinks --after he's read it.


What's the title TOT? You just lost what could have been a sure buyer of your book by not being gracious of her ignorance. You could have told her what it meant and why the title fit so perfectly and then she would have learned a word, learned more about your book and perhaps been intrigued enough to go home and tell her friends about her niece the writer who would be published soon.

Ol' Fashioned Girl
11-29-2006, 06:41 PM
"A writer? Oh. So... um... what do you do?"

Kudra
11-29-2006, 06:44 PM
Here I was celebrating my personal rejection from a big-time editor, and this silly non-writer person says, "But it's still a rejection, right?"

Sheesh. You think they'd learn.

(Maybe I'm the stupid one. :Shrug:)

Del
11-29-2006, 07:10 PM
My mom won't read my work because I call it horror. She says she thinks I'll be too gorey. So I asked her "who's your favorite author?" She said Jonathan Kellerman. So I go find a book by JK. The first chapter has a series of mutilations and same gender sex.

"MOTHER! Why do you read this crap?"

"He uses short paragraphs."

I write about monsters. He writes about a detective. I guess it depends on who is doing the mutilating. Go figure...

seun
11-29-2006, 07:17 PM
This isn't so much a stupid statement than a stupid idea. Non-writers have an idea that writing takes a lot of time but if I say I'm busy writing and can't do something else, they're surprised. It's as if I can do both at the same time or writing is less important than anything else.

xhouseboy
11-29-2006, 07:23 PM
Where do you get your ideas?

Little shop down the road's running a special on them. Buy one, get one free.

Stew21
11-29-2006, 07:28 PM
I was at a local tavern (hometown hangout) and was with some friends. I was talking about writing my first MS. One of my friends is a beta reader for me. Some old guy that drinks too much and talks too much says, "hey! You could put us in the book! That would be great! There's gotta be a place in there for you to put all of us here in that book! This place is something special. You could write it and even use our real names."
:head smack:
"It's chick lit. I really doubt 5 drunk guys at the tavern down the street would have any bearing on the story."
"Well you could write it so it takes place in this town and then you could put us in."
Thankfully someone distracted him with a subject change to sports.

MidnightMuse
11-29-2006, 07:31 PM
"You should send your stories to a publisher."

"I used to write, when I was in grade school."

"Pass the salad, please."

Maprilynne
11-29-2006, 07:55 PM
"Yeah, I'm a writer too. I'm going to write this great book some day."

The best is that non-writers who don't understand the realities of writing really think that everyone gets million dollar advances. My mother's friend said one day, "She should hurry and get that book published. Then she can take us all to Hawaii or something."

Riiiiggghhhhttt.

Maprilynne

JeanneTGC
11-29-2006, 07:55 PM
My mother-in-law, trying to be helpful, explained in detail to me (while she was with me on an all-expense-paid-by-ME trip and during dinner at a nice restaurant) why she didn't like my writing.

"I just skim those sex scenes."

"Mom, they're love scenes, and for this book I do the 'wind blows at the curtains' stuff, you never see anything other than kissing and romantic feelings. How did you like the characters?"

"Well, I don't like stuff like that. You should take it out. I don't like books about things like vampires and werewolves <note that this woman is a RABID Harry Potter fan>. I like books based on reality <Note that this woman reads Tom Clancy and related type thrillers>. Oh, and you don't describe things well. You mentioned it was raining. This other author <insert name of some male writer, writing thrillers, who has been published for what seems like aeons> does it so much better than you. He describes how the drops hit the puddles, and how those things, those..."

"Concentric circles?"

"Yes, those! How they radiate out. I feel like I'm there!"

"That's super, mom. But I don't write like that. I don't like to READ that, so I don't write like that. I write in my own voice."

"You don't talk anything like what you gave me of yours to read."

"Mom? Know what? I love you, and I'd like to keep it that way. Let's just agree that you never read anything I've written again until it's published, and then just the acknowledgements page."

TrainofThought
11-29-2006, 08:03 PM
What's the title TOT? You just lost what could have been a sure buyer of your book by not being gracious of her ignorance. You could have told her what it meant and why the title fit so perfectly and then she would have learned a word, learned more about your book and perhaps been intrigued enough to go home and tell her friends about her niece the writer who would be published soon. Actually, she isnít an aunt by blood and isnít one I hold in high standing. The word that she didnít know was Ďgenreí. This woman is in her late 60s and doesnít know the word genre? She has no friends, other than my blood aunt, so losing readership isnít too much of a risk here. And no one in my family knows what my book is about. That's how I want it for now.

Bubastes
11-29-2006, 08:06 PM
Ouch.

Okay, so your Dad thinks you should write like Harold Robbins, might ask why? Better yet, ask which book. Might tell him why you like writing what you write. Show him one of your recent pieces and ask him what he thinks --after he's read it.


He hasn't read anything by Harold Robbins. He just sees the money.

The only Robbins book I've read is Descent From Xanadu (I read it when I was a teenager). It was unintentionally hilarious.

ChaosTitan
11-29-2006, 08:13 PM
Me: I'm a writer.
Them: What's that mean?


Them: What do you write?
Me: Fiction, novels mostly.
Them: Hey, like DaVinci Code?
Me: *tears hair out*

TrickyFiction
11-29-2006, 08:15 PM
While discussing the possibility of including a novel project into my curriculum, my professor suddenly gets all hush hush and says, "We'd better be quiet. Anyone could steal your idea."

Good grief.

My father: "You should try to emulate Dan Brown. You know, write another Da Vinci Code."

Stew21
11-29-2006, 08:17 PM
You wrote a novel?
Yes.
Well is it published?
No.
So it's just a hobby then?
No.
Why don't you write shorter ones. It wouldn't take as long, since you can't get them published anyway.

Kate Thornton
11-29-2006, 08:27 PM
"So you're a writer. Have I heard of you?"

Shadow_Ferret
11-29-2006, 08:41 PM
My mom, just the other day... (I forget what brought it on).

"So, do you still write those little stories you used to?"

Yes, mom, I still write.

"How come I never see them?"

Maybe because I'm an adult now, moved out, with a family of my own? (OK, I didn't say that, but I was thinking it.)

Del
11-29-2006, 08:43 PM
Why don't you write shorter ones. It wouldn't take as long, since you can't get them published anyway.

Don't you just love all the help?

Stew21
11-29-2006, 08:48 PM
Don't you just love all the help?

I have to admit that the conversation took place with one of the stupidest people I know. :)

Example:
Idiot: "Hey Dave, do you have a comb?"
*Dave is almost completely bald and assumes he is making a dig.*
Dave: "actually I do."
Idiot: "can I borrow it?"
Dave: "I don't have it here." *takes his hat off and rubs his bald head.*
Idiot: "Trish do you have a comb. I really need to borrow a comb."
Trish: "No. I don't. can I ask why the first person you ask to borrow a comb from is the BALD guy?"
Idiot: "huh?"

Haggis
11-29-2006, 08:56 PM
I was at a local tavern (hometown hangout) and was with some friends. I was talking about writing my first MS. One of my friends is a beta reader for me. Some old guy that drinks too much and talks too much says, "hey! You could put us in the book! That would be great! There's gotta be a place in there for you to put all of us here in that book! This place is something special. You could write it and even use our real names."
:head smack:
"It's chick lit. I really doubt 5 drunk guys at the tavern down the street would have any bearing on the story."
"Well you could write it so it takes place in this town and then you could put us in."
Thankfully someone distracted him with a subject change to sports.
Hey. :idea: I always have the same 5 drunk guys in everything I write. Do you suppose that's what's been holding me back? :D

chicagogal
11-29-2006, 08:58 PM
my favorite dumb question: ARE YOU STILL WRITING? to which I am tempted to reply, ARE YOU STILL BREATHING?

RTH
11-29-2006, 09:08 PM
All EXCELLENT examples of why I never tell people I'm a writer. ;)

Del
11-29-2006, 09:17 PM
Hey. :idea: I always have the same 5 drunk guys in everything I write. Do you suppose that's what's been holding me back? :D

Maybe you should find five other drunk guys and see if your writing improves.:Shrug:

aadams73
11-29-2006, 09:22 PM
"So when are you, like, going to be on Oprah?"
(when you, like, grow a brain.)

"So how much do you get paid? A million dollars?"
(Yes, my pseudonym is Nora Roberts)

"Are you working right now?"
"Yes." (me gritting my teeth)
"Writing?"
"Yes."
"Okay, enough about you, lets talk about my boring life and dumb crap...blah blah blah."
"ARGHHHHHH!! (the sound of my bashing my skull on the desk)

PattiTheWicked
11-29-2006, 09:23 PM
My mom got me a shirt that says "Careful, or you'll end up in my next novel."

Del
11-29-2006, 09:27 PM
My mom got me a shirt that says "Careful, or you'll end up in my next novel."

The pen is mightier than the sored.

LeslieB
11-29-2006, 09:39 PM
My mom got me a shirt that says "Careful, or you'll end up in my next novel."

Ooooh, I want a shirt like that! Especially since my neighbor, my boss, and his boss above him are all in my manuscript. They'd never recognize themselves, but I know it's them. *cackles evilly*

mooncars
11-29-2006, 09:44 PM
From my decades of songwriting experience I can echo the sentiments here. "Why don't you write a song about 9/11 like Alan Jackson did?"

"Because he doesn't mind profiting from others' suffering, and he's country. No thanks."

"What's wrong with country music?"

"Got a few hours?"

"Don't you care about them people who died?"

"Will you please shoot me and get it over with?"

And now this gem of wisdom from the late Glen Buxton: "Ya can't win wid 'em." I couldn't have said it better.

Scarlett_156
11-29-2006, 09:48 PM
As stated elsewhere, almost everyone I hang out with either doesn't like to read or CAN'T read. On those extremely rare occasions when my writing is a topic of conversation I usually get a lot of props for being able to string words together. When school is in, I get about one desperate request a week to help someone with homework. People one has helped turn a "D" into a "B" are usually going to keep their mouths shut when a stupid question or remark about one's writing pops into their heads.

I DO get the occasional IM from a stranger asking me to read something he/she has written or telling me that his life is really interesting and "someone" should write a book about it.

Carmy
11-29-2006, 09:50 PM
Oh, gee, thanks! Heard most of those comments and I now need more coffee to get over it. I shoulda stayed away from this thread.

Lyra Jean
11-29-2006, 09:52 PM
Where do you get your ideas?

Little shop down the road's running a special on them. Buy one, get one free.

I'm totally going to use this one next time this question is asked of me.

So is that sentence grammatically correct cause I think my stepmom who's third language is English has better grammar than me. Is that sad or what?

PattiTheWicked
11-29-2006, 09:53 PM
Signals Catalog: Careful or You'll End Up In My Novel (http://www.signals.com/signals/T-Shirts-Sweatshirts_1GA/Item_Careful-Or-Youll-End-Up-In-My-Novel-Shirts_AV1741G_ps_cti-1GA.html)

Del
11-29-2006, 10:02 PM
Ooooh, I want a shirt like that! Especially since my neighbor, my boss, and his boss above him are all in my manuscript. They'd never recognize themselves, but I know it's them. *cackles evilly*

I put my best friend from my teens in my book. I killed him.

Simon Woodhouse
11-29-2006, 10:03 PM
When I say I write a bit, people show some interest. When I say I write sci-fi, their faces usually drop and I get 'what, like Star Wars?' At this point I steer the conversation in another direction.

Sean D. Schaffer
11-29-2006, 10:04 PM
The stupidest thing any non-writer has ever said to me about writing is:

"So, how many books have you publicated?"

Not 'published'. Publicated.

The second-stupidest thing any non-writer has said to me about writing comes in the form of the following conversation:

"What do you do for a living?"

"I'm a writer."

"No, I mean do you have a real job?"

That conversation was the pre-requisite for me being able to consider buying a Kirby vacuum cleaner. Because I did not have a 'regular' job, he wouldn't even let me look at it.

I will never purchase a Kirby again, because of their salesman's snotty attitude toward my career.

WackAMole
11-29-2006, 10:04 PM
My dad looks at writing as a waste of time. Once, when I shared with him that an agent had requested to see some of my manu..he told me that there are millions of people that write, the competition is too tough and that it's pointless to pursue something everyone else is trying to do.

All I could do was sit there and stare at him, whilst in my mind I was running through my list of real life friends who write..which was NIL..which is why I ended up here!

He's a black and white guy who never appreciated my focus on drawing, painting and art in high school...it never pays the bills you know! (pffft) I believed a lot of that crap in high school, but now as an adult, I only share my writing with people who ask about it and offer nothing to my dad until the day I can present him with a shining new copy of my first published novel. Even then, I'm sure he will have something to say about it.

I encourage parents to never discourage their childrens dreams. Art can and does provide scholarships for college. Art in any form, be it writing, painting, drawing, music, sculpture. If we cant pursue our dreams, what on earth are we here for?

I never expect my dreams to pay my bills, dreams are not about the money, but more about accomplishing something we never imagined we could! My dream is to give something back to the book world for the years of escape and adventure, horror and sadness that I enjoyed in reading them. Now, I want to be a part of that..and I never give credibility to anyone who ever knocks another persons dreams..end of rant :)

Lyra Jean
11-29-2006, 10:08 PM
Person: So how much money have you made writing so far?
Me: Five dollars.
Person: Well that won't pay any bills.
Me: That's why I'm still working at Wal-Mart.

Del
11-29-2006, 10:09 PM
When I say I write a bit, people show some interest. When I say I write sci-fi, their faces usually drop and I get 'what, like Star Wars?' At this point I steer the conversation in another direction.

I WISH I wrote Star Wars. Give me 10% of that and I'll just move to a tropical island and email the rest of my works to the publisher of my choice.

jenfreedom
11-29-2006, 10:11 PM
When I say I write grants:

Weird folks say: "Hey, can you teach me to write a grant so I can get a ton of $ to... film a cross country tattoo roller rink indi epic / open a bacon wrapped food business /pay for a funeral."

And every other crazy dream you can think of. Sometimes the crazy folks even offer me a generous $30 bucks if I'll write it for them.

When I told my aunt I scored my first glossy article:

Aunt: Are you sure they aren't running some sort of undercover magazine scam to get free writing?
Me: I have a contract.
Aunt: For actual money.
Me: Yes (but thinking "no I'm getting paid in magic beans")
Aunt: Maybe if you make them pay you first they can't scam you!

The laughing in my head won't stop long enough for me to answer.

Del
11-29-2006, 10:13 PM
He's a black and white guy who never appreciated my focus on drawing, painting and art in high school...it never pays the bills you know! (pffft) I believed a lot of that crap in high school, but now as an adult, I only share my writing with people who ask about it and offer nothing to my dad until the day I can present him with a shining new copy of my first published novel. Even then, I'm sure he will have something to say about it.



Are we siblings?

WackAMole
11-29-2006, 10:20 PM
Are we siblings?

Hehe maybe so. I think this is a common problem writers run into which is why we all end up as writing forum addicts :P

David Erlewine
11-29-2006, 10:27 PM
"Wow, a writer! That must be so much fun!"

Tiger
11-29-2006, 10:28 PM
Give 'em a break. Not everybody asks questions for a living.

soloset
11-29-2006, 10:35 PM
Maybe I'm feeling overly charitable today or something (must be the weather; it's sunny and warm here but everyone I dislike is freezing their tushes off somewhere else), but most of these strike me as "clueless" rather than stupid. Some are even "clueless but well-meaning".

Every profession has quirks that outsiders aren't aware of, and there are some definite misconceptions about writing and writers out there with the general public. It's a fact that just about anyone who has the basics can technically "write", and I think that confuses people into thinking anyone can write well. Not to mention the general perception that writers get paid as much as movie stars while simultaneously being starving artists. And we smoke, drink, and do drugs. And ride motorcycles. And think deep thoughts.

Of course, I'm too chicken to tell my parents I'm doing this, so they've simply been wondering for the last year why I just sort of never got another job after the last one fell through. I wonder what they think I do all day?

Freckles
11-29-2006, 10:40 PM
Ohhh, good topic for a thread! My favorite is when my mom asks me, "You're still working on that article?" like I can whip it out in 30 minutes or something!

We writers have a hard life, huh?

Del
11-29-2006, 10:41 PM
Of course, I'm too chicken to tell my parents I'm doing this, so they've simply been wondering for the last year why I just sort of never got another job after the last one fell through. I wonder what they think I do all day?


But, but but...writing isn't a job.


I know people that think it doesn't matter how much money you have or make. If you aren't in the work force you're a bum.

Kudra
11-29-2006, 10:50 PM
All these incidents are so funny! :ROFL:

I have another one...

Her: So do you write novels?
Me: No, my work is mostly non-fiction.
Her: Okay... and what's the difference?

Tiger
11-29-2006, 10:56 PM
Take a look at the "Story Research..." area of AW. This is a clear enough indication that writers have no problem with asking about--or writing about--areas outside of their professions. I do it all the time.

Not one of the people I've ever interviewed or asked for information professionally or out of simple curiosity has ever given me the slightest indication that they thought me stupid for doing so.

Shadow_Ferret
11-29-2006, 11:10 PM
Ohhh, good topic for a thread! My favorite is when my mom asks me, "You're still working on that article?" like I can whip it out in 30 minutes or something!

We writers have a hard life, huh?

You can't? It's not like it's a novel or something. :tongue

Bubastes
11-29-2006, 11:57 PM
Take a look at the "Story Research..." area of AW. This is a clear enough indication that writers have no problem with asking about--or writing about--areas outside of their professions. I do it all the time.

Not one of the people I've ever interviewed or asked for information professionally or out of simple curiosity has ever given me the slightest indication that they thought me stupid for doing so.

You're assuming that (1) people are asking us questions and (2) if so, are interested in the answer. My little rant is over stupid comments, not questions, from people that prefer spouting over listening. It actually involves only a few people in my life, but I was in a cranky mood this a.m.

Tiger
11-30-2006, 12:06 AM
I have no problems with questions that show a genuine interest in what I do (you know, the kind that writers ask). :D

Well, yes: writers ask questions for a living--they're better at it than most people. It's expected of them.

An old idea maybe, but it serves: hearing two thousand people ask one question (or make one observation) is not the same as hearing one person doing same two thousand times.

Just my two pennies. :D

awatkins
11-30-2006, 12:12 AM
"So when are you going to write a real book?"

'cause everybody knows nonfiction books aren't real books....

soloset
11-30-2006, 12:17 AM
But, but but...writing isn't a job.


I know people that think it doesn't matter how much money you have or make. If you aren't in the work force you're a bum.

I'm fortunate; my folks (okay, my in-laws, but I think of them as my folks) don't care what I do as long as I'm making enough money that we're comfortable.

Tiger
11-30-2006, 12:20 AM
You're assuming that (1) people are asking us questions and (2) if so, are interested in the answer. My little rant is over stupid comments, not questions, from people that prefer spouting over listening.

They're not stupid for asking questions. They're stupid for acting like know-it-alls.

Sorry, my last post went up before I read yours.

Don't get me wrong, I was not responding to your original post, specifically. There have been plenty of complaints about questions.

Of course, I agree with you about know-it-alls (knows-it-all?). My thought was only that the intent of most people is probably not to be insulting. They're probably just trying to make conversation.

-D

soloset
11-30-2006, 12:26 AM
Of course, I agree with you about know-it-alls (knows-it-all?). My thought was only that the intent of most people is probably not to be insulting. They're probably just trying to make conversation.

-D

Exactly. At least they're trying to relate, and at least they're dimly aware of what's important to you even if it's not important to them. Reverse the situation, and you have me trying to discuss football with my father-in-law.

I guess I can just think of at least half a dozen times when I said something clueless and inadvertently insulting to someone in another profession, regretted it, but couldn't think of a graceful way to correct myself and had to let it stand between us.

(I've always found the "I have this great idea; you write it and we'll split the profits!" thing hilarious, though.)

Christine N.
11-30-2006, 12:30 AM
Wow, what would people think of me, sitting at home all day, working, and, yanno, getting pretty decent sized checks in the mail every couple of weeks?

My very favorite:

Me, sitting at a table at a signing event
Person who is sans-clues: "So, you wrote this?"
Me: Uh-huh.
Captain Clueless: "How much did you have to pay?"

Happens more times than I care to count. I get asked this all. the. time.

It's sad.

jbal
11-30-2006, 12:53 AM
Christine-really? What is that supposed to mean? Like you paid to write it?

victoriastrauss
11-30-2006, 12:54 AM
"So you're a writer. Have I heard of you?"Oooh, that makes me crazy. Especially if I've just introduced myself. Duh. I told you my name ten seconds ago--you figure it out.

Here's one that irritates me.

Stranger at party: "So you're a fantasy writer? I loved Harry Potter!"

Me: "Me too. So you're a fantasy fan?"

Stranger at party: "Nah, I never read that stuff."

There are also the people who assume that "fantasy" means "sex fantasy." On my way to this year's World Fantasy Convention I met a woman who was oddly curious about what I was going to be doing there, and it was several minutes before it dawned on me that she was imagining an entire convention of erotica writers (and associated merchandise).

- Victoria

CaroGirl
11-30-2006, 12:56 AM
This falls squarely in the clueless camp. I love my friend, but she's clueless about writing.

Clueless Friend: "How's the writing going?"
Me: "Great. My writing group is putting together a short-story anthology."
Clueless Friend: "Ah. What's an anthology?"

Keep in mind, she's a math major. If she told me about graphing exponential integers or something, my eyes would glaze over before she got out the first word. To each her own.

I get the "Where do you get your ideas?" question a lot too. Mostly courtesy of my SIL. "I buy them off a guy on the corner from the back of his truck."

sassandgroove
11-30-2006, 01:08 AM
I get a lot of "Will I recognize myself in your story?" and "You writin' about me?"

Um...no.

Bubastes
11-30-2006, 01:10 AM
Exactly. At least they're trying to relate, and at least they're dimly aware of what's important to you even if it's not important to them. Reverse the situation, and you have me trying to discuss football with my father-in-law.

OMG, if you only knew how many hours I've had to endure listening to my Dad talk about his work, his opinions on stuff, and his political views. I kid you not, he talks for 20-30 minutes at a stretch about himself. I've timed him. If you're lucky, you might get in a minute edgewise between stretches, but no matter what you say, he shifts the topic to his opinion on what you should be doing with your life, then back to himself. Ah well, he's a professor, so he's used to talking in other people's sleep. :D Depending on my mood, I find it endearing or irritating. My Mom, on the other hand, can go for hours without saying a word, no doubt because of Dad's annoying conversation habits. The sad part is, he doesn't notice. He talks enough for the three of us at dinner parties, and then some.

Tiger
11-30-2006, 01:19 AM
OMG, if you only knew how many hours I've had to endure listening to my Dad talk about his work, his opinions on stuff, and his political views. I kid you not, he talks for 20-30 minutes at a stretch about himself and his opinions.

Okay... Now I understand. Sorry. I gotta dad too. He believes it's his job to know more than his kids.:)

Have you ever had someone (non-writer) suggest strongly, or demand, that you write on a particular point of view?

-D

Shadow_Ferret
11-30-2006, 01:24 AM
"So you're a writer. Have I heard of you?"

Or the "Have I read any of your stuff?"

Now that's just stupid on so many levels.

Scrawler
11-30-2006, 01:26 AM
What do you do?
I'm a writer.
Cool! For which studio?
or
What do you do?
I'm a writer.
Cool! On what show?
or
What do you do?
I'm a writer.
Cool! Who's your agent?

(one of the perks of living in Los Angeles!)

Tiger
11-30-2006, 01:26 AM
Exactly. At least they're trying to relate, and at least they're dimly aware of what's important to you even if it's not important to them. Reverse the situation, and you have me trying to discuss football with my father-in-law.

Argh. I've given up on trying to understand half of the subjects I took stabs at--football among them. I just don't grok.

Hell to me would be having to write a book about football.

-D

Bubastes
11-30-2006, 01:27 AM
Okay... Now I understand. Sorry. I gotta dad too. He believes it's his job to know more than his kids.:)

Have you ever had someone (non-writer) suggest strongly, or demand, that you write on a particular point of view?

-D

For non-day job writing, no, but if someone did I'd tell him/her to write it himself/herself if they feel so darn strongly about it. Or pay me double.

For day job writing, of course. I'm a lawyer.

Tiger
11-30-2006, 01:29 AM
What do you do?
I'm a writer.
Cool! For which studio?
or
What do you do?
I'm a writer.
Cool! On what show?
or
What do you do?
I'm a writer.
Cool! Who's your agent?

(one of the perks of living in Los Angeles!)

What do you do?
I'm an actor.
Cool! At what restaurant? :D

Tiger
11-30-2006, 01:40 AM
For non-day job writing, no, but if someone did I'd tell him/her to write it himself/herself if they feel so darn strongly about it. Or pay me double.

For day job writing, of course. I'm a lawyer.

I work on a magazine for teenagers. I've had my share of strong suggestions. Talk about people who have no clue about why we write. Sometimes it's difficult to explain:


Tho' the word 'public' is in 'publication.' We don't acknowledge any 'right' of yours to be represented by us
Your idea may be important to you, but would make for dull/inappropriate/controversial copy--no matter how it's spun
Yes, we respect peoples' opinions, but ultimately the choice for what I write and how it's written is mine and my editor's-D

Christine N.
11-30-2006, 02:13 AM
Christine-really? What is that supposed to mean? Like you paid to write it?

No, like how much did I pay to have it published.

Really.

Provrb1810meggy
11-30-2006, 02:16 AM
Guy in Class: What are you doing?
Me: Working on my novel.
Guy in Class: That's weird.
Me: Why?
Guy in Class: You write for fun.
Me: So?
Guy in Class: Only authors write for fun.
Me: *eye roll* How do you think the authors became authors? They would've had to write before some paid them to do it.
Guy in Class: *blank look*

sassandgroove
11-30-2006, 02:21 AM
Only authors write for fun, ergo you are an author. Yet he didn't make the connection.

Alan Yee
11-30-2006, 02:35 AM
No, like how much did I pay to have it published.

Really.

Oh yes, though some clueless newbies still ask that question sometimes. While we're on that subject, some advice for the lurkers:

Yog's Law: Money always flows toward the writer.

Also, Ann Crispin's article (http://sfwa.org/writing/anti-scam.htm/) on that question, appropriately titled, "Excuse Me, How Much Did It Cost You?"

(I know most of you know this already, but I'm just doing it on the hope that some lurker sees it and runs away from harm.)

Cat Scratch
11-30-2006, 02:36 AM
Like others on this thread, I do appreciate people's attempt to understand something that is new to them. (We can blame the media's portrayal of rich and famous writers in movies, etc.) It still gets annoying, though, to hear these things time and again.

My favorite was when a co-worker of mine read a good review in the newspaper of a play I wrote. He came to me genuinely impressed and had a lot of inquiries about writing and my goals. His closing statement, though, was that I sounded really passionate about writing, and if I were truly so passionate maybe I should consider pursuing that instead of wasting my time working at a bank. While he was being very supportive, it was just funny to me that he assumed I was raking in enough having one play produced and a novel in the works to quit my well-paying job. Let alone the assumption that I couldn't do both--earn a living and pursue a writing career--at one time.

Alan Yee
11-30-2006, 02:39 AM
My parents totally support and encourage my writing, but they don't pressure me to answer questions about what I'm writing. The only question I hate is when they ask to read it out of curiosity. I think, "um, NO, she'd flip if she read that." It's not a stupid question, just one I don't like getting.

Tiger
11-30-2006, 02:54 AM
My parents totally support and encourage my writing, but they don't pressure me to answer questions about what I'm writing. The only question I hate is when they ask to read it out of curiosity. I think, "um, NO, she'd flip if she read that." It's not a stupid question, just one I don't like getting.

One short story I wrote in high school, was about a high school kid who got into habitual drug use and then drove his car off a cliff.

I got an A+ for it, but it wasn't the kind of thing I wanted to show my folks--especially after just getting my driver's license.

What do you say when they ask?

-D

Celia Cyanide
11-30-2006, 03:20 AM
Them: What have you been doing since I last saw you?

Me: Well, I won an award for an unproduced screenplay, and then I got heavily into acting, and now I'm writing another screenplay, which I intend to direct and star in myself.

Them: Oh. I'm getting married!

electric.avenue
11-30-2006, 03:42 AM
One of my neighbours:

"But how are you going to find work like that around here?"

(Most of the writing I have done has been for clients outside the UK, but I don't think my neighbour is terribly familiar with this thing called the internet).

LilaDubois
11-30-2006, 03:51 AM
My mother (who is a College Dean) forwarded me some random email from a lady who emailed the college detailing how she wants to write a book. She can't write but has a list of bullet points and wanted to be put in contact with someone who could write this quasi-authobiographical look at being a female police woman and get it published for her.

Mom, I write erotica. You know this. Don't you? Have you been listening to anything I have said in the past year?

LeslieB
11-30-2006, 04:04 AM
Signals Catalog: Careful or You'll End Up In My Novel (http://www.signals.com/signals/T-Shirts-Sweatshirts_1GA/Item_Careful-Or-Youll-End-Up-In-My-Novel-Shirts_AV1741G_ps_cti-1GA.html)

Oooooh, I love it! This is definitely going on my Christmas list.

Silverhand
11-30-2006, 04:35 AM
Take a look at the "Story Research..." area of AW. This is a clear enough indication that writers have no problem with asking about--or writing about--areas outside of their professions. I do it all the time.

Not one of the people I've ever interviewed or asked for information professionally or out of simple curiosity has ever given me the slightest indication that they thought me stupid for doing so.

With my mother the questions are endless. :)

But, I am glad you said this...as it is very true!

JeanneTGC
11-30-2006, 04:56 AM
The most gut-churning ones are where friends who are supportive of my writing goals, even excited about them, share with me that one of THEIR friends or relatives has great story ideas and just needs to work with someone to get them going. They always follow this up with, "Maybe you could take some time and help them, you know, work with them, just until their first book is written."

That I manage to give polite, supportive replies instead of what my mind is screaming, is, I think, a sign that all those diplomacy courses have finally paid off.

Tiger
11-30-2006, 07:02 AM
The most gut-churning ones are where friends who are supportive of my writing goals, even excited about them, share with me that one of THEIR friends or relatives has great story ideas and just needs to work with someone to get them going. They always follow this up with, "Maybe you could take some time and help them, you know, work with them, just until their first book is written."

Well, it does sound as though they're asking you to take ten years out of your life, pounding your head on a friend's ms...

-d

JulesJones
11-30-2006, 07:42 AM
Of course, I'm too chicken to tell my parents I'm doing this, so they've simply been wondering for the last year why I just sort of never got another job after the last one fell through. I wonder what they think I do all day?

Been there, done that, we should get a teeshirt. I'm not telling my mum I write erotic romance. I'm certainly not telling her what sort of erotic romance. ..

Silver King
11-30-2006, 07:44 AM
"Anyone can write a story about catching a big fish."

"Tell that to Melville."

"Melville who?"

kristie911
11-30-2006, 08:15 AM
Suddenly I feel so lucky. My parents, especially my dad, is super supportive of me writing and is always asking how it's going. Even lately, when I say I haven't been writing at all, all he says is that it will come back to me, I'm just going through a lot right now. He says everyone needs a break sometime.

And I've actually never had anyone say anything stupid about me writing. Everyone at work, my friends, everyone that knows I write, always says how cool that is. Even when I have to admit I'm unpublished.

Lucky me! :D

TsukiRyoko
11-30-2006, 08:24 AM
My favorite: "You're too poor to publish!"

Southern_girl29
11-30-2006, 08:29 AM
I just sold my first story (yeah me), and I did get a few comments from actual writers (I work at a newspaper) that were kind of stupid. One person said they thought you had to start out with non-paying publications first.

But, my family is super supportive of me. I'm lucky that way.

Arisa81
11-30-2006, 09:25 AM
"So, are you working yet?" I actually get this one more than I can stand. They know perfectly well what I do. I think it actually doesn't make sense to them when I say I write. They look confused. :Huh:
My mom recently asked if all my online pieces were "real" (I assume she meant paid) or just something I do in my spare time. :roll: Silly, mommy. :tongue

Oh my gosh, I just remembered something someone else said to me once. I have this online friend whose 2nd language is English and she was asking me about adverbs, adjectives etc and I have never remembered which was which, even in school. It was all over my head, but I have a great grasp of he English language, obviously. She proceeded to tell me that if I don't know what those are, then I can't know how to use them and I am not a real writer. lol.

sunandshadow
11-30-2006, 11:23 AM
My roommate (who actually reads, sort of even my genre, but doesn't have a creative bone in his body): "It isn't a novel until it's finished. Unless and until it's done you haven't accomplished anything and don't deserve any moral support for wasting your time like that. Of course I can't come up with any useful comments on it if it isn't finished."

Me: "Oh yeah, a pat on the back and an opinion will be real useful when I've already finished it."

AnneMarble
11-30-2006, 12:23 PM
So, what are some stupid things people have said to you (besides the trusty "I want to write someday" or "I could have written [insert name of story here] if I had the time")?
Well there's my brother, who kept trying to persuade me that I should write the story of his divorce instead of wasting my time on all that darn fiction. I told him he should be the one to write that, but noooo, I should write it for him. Riiight.

And for a while, every time my father saw a mediocre movie, he'd tell me I could do so much better and I should write movies. I'd try to explain that it's not that easy to write scripts or get a movie studio to so much as look at your scripts. I'd explain that you have to learn the format, get an agent, most likely move to L.A., etc., etc. (All the things I'd read in articles on script writing. :D) And I guess he would listen, sort of, but then go on into the same topic next time he saw a mediocre movie. Apparently someone who never read a book on writing knows more than someone who has a stack of books and magazines on writing. ;)

And then there was the time my cousin read a fantasy short story I'd written. She liked the story, of which I was glad, and was amazed I could just sit there and write a story with a beginning middle, end, etc. :) (Besides, I wrote it because she mixed the margaritas so strongly. :tongue ) But then she asked why I bothered writing that sort of story when I could make so much more money writing those "little stories" like the ones published in Redbook? Oh, you mean that market that's almost impossible for new writers to break into?! I tried to explain how competitive that sort of market was. Then I pointed out that I didn't really want to write that sort of story, and I was writing what I liked. She seemed to think that was odd as she didn't think anyone was publishing "those" stories because she hadn't seen that sort of magazine on the shelves. Uhm... OK, fantasy markets are not as prevalent as Redbook, and they don't pay as well, but honest, they're out there. Look, I was glad she cared, but she just didn't understand the point of writing. I didn't become a writer so I could publish in a magazine I hardly ever read. Instead, I became a writer so I could tell the types of stories I liked to read. :D Anyway, even if nobody were publishing that type of story, I'd rather write something I love than write something that bores me to tears, even if it might supposedly make me more money. You never know... That labor of love story might be good enough to create a new subgenre!

Edited to Add:
And how can I forget the helpful dorm-mate who told me not to bother trying to get published in hardback. I should get published in paperback instead and then sell so many copies that the book gets reprinted in hardback. Yeah, that happens all the time. ;)

AnneMarble
11-30-2006, 12:32 PM
Actually, she isnít an aunt by blood and isnít one I hold in high standing. The word that she didnít know was Ďgenreí. This woman is in her late 60s and doesnít know the word genre? ...
I once attended a writing conference where the keynote speaker talked a lot about writing genre fiction. After the speech was over, I overhead a couple of writers (middle-aged) looking at each other and saying something like "Genre? Have you ever heard of a genre before?!" :cry:

Then again, these may have been the same writers who complained be because the keynote speaker had recently lost her contract. (At this time, Harper was dropping some of their midlist authors.) They argued that you couldn't learn anything from a writer who couldn't keep their contract. Mind you, they themselves had never been so much as published, but they still didn't think you could learn from an author who had been pbulished but had recently lost her contract. Right. You can only learn that publishing has its ups and downs and that even published authors can end up losing their contract. Little things like that. Duh.:tongue

Joanna_S
11-30-2006, 12:43 PM
When I wrote for TV I constantly fielded "great ideas" for the show which were either a) standard sitcom plots dating back to I Love Lucy or b) completely inappropriate for the show or C) not a story idea at all, just a joke.

After switching to non-fiction, I mostly got "But, how do you know anything about that" regarding the subject. I don't blame them for that, since I'm not an expert on anything I've written, but my standard answer of "I learn" never appeases them.

However, by far my biggest bugaboo is that everyone who finds out I'm a writer expects me to supply them with free copies of my books. I realize that non-writers have no idea how many author copies I get, but dangit, I don't ask them to do their work for free. I think they assume I have cases of books stacked up in a closet somewhere when the reality is that my scant author copies are gone within minutes of their arrival. The only extras I ever have are in foreign languages.

I even had this terribly embarrassing situation arise: I attended a friend's party and had my first published book in hand, to show her. She grabbed it, said, "Mine!" and put it in her bookcase without cracking the cover (it was illustrated, so most people oohed over the images before ignoring the writing). Unfortunately, that was my only copy. Someone else saw it happen, noted my distress (my friend didn't notice, as she left me to talk to someone else) and snuck it back to me. The friend never mentioned that it was missing so I assume she never looked for it again.

-- Joanna

seun
11-30-2006, 01:15 PM
Them: "Why don't you write for the local paper?"
Me: Because I write fiction, usually fantasy/adventure stuff. I don't write stories about chavs, arsonists and people being short changed in Asda."

FergieC
11-30-2006, 03:29 PM
My dad looks at writing as a waste of time. Once, when I shared with him that an agent had requested to see some of my manu..he told me that there are millions of people that write, the competition is too tough and that it's pointless to pursue something everyone else is trying to do.


My Dad used to be exactly like that too, and it depressed the hell out of me - I didn't have much confidence in my teens, and I always took it as him basically having no faith in me.

The funny thing is that all through my 20s, it was that which drove me on relentlessly with writing. I got this kind of I'll show them rage into my writing, especially since the day job I ended up in due to my parents urgings was accountancy, and so hellishly dull I knew I couldn't stay in it.

When I did finally get a couple of things published, including one article in a national newspaper, and one short play that got a great review in the local paper, they were chuffed to bits, and after that - once they realised how serious I was - they were nothing but completely supportive. (After which, sadly, I lost some of that driving aggression the writing used to have due to them not being. Ah well, such is life...)

I hardly tell any non-writer about writing, because I'm so sick of

1. Ooh, I've always intended to start writing. I have this great idea, which I don't really want to talk about because I wouldn't want anyone stealing it, and just as soon as I get some time...blah, blah...

2. Have you got your book published yet then? (No, oddly enough, it hasn't found a publisher and hit the bookshops since you last asked three weeks ago.)

Sean D. Schaffer
11-30-2006, 03:43 PM
A friend of mine, well-meaning and all--and a writer, no less, who knew nothing about how scams work in the business--said this to me once:

"I found this great publishing site and maybe you should go with this company. They sound like a real innovator in the industry."

Take a guess which company he was talking about... (Hint: Starts with 'Publish' and ends with 'America').
:rolleyes:

Rivana
11-30-2006, 04:04 PM
*Eyes glitter a bit. From mirth or unshed tears? One can only speculate.*

Dad: Are you doing anything important or are you playing.
Me (on the computer): I'm writing.
Dad: Have you looked for any jobs today? (I'm a full time student in addition to being an emerging writer/photographer btw.)

Me: I finished my book.
Aunt: Why isn't it in Swedish? (My native tongue.)
Me: Because the international market is larger and I like writing in English.
Aunt: You should write in Swedish.
Me: You haven't even opened the book.
Aunt: You should still write in Swedish. Writing never flows as well when it's not your native language.
Me: At least read something before judging.
Aunt: It looks wonderful. Next time you will write in Swedish.
Me: Aaargh!

Dad (crashes through bedroom door and shouts sometime between 10 and 12am depending on the day): Terese, what the hell are you doing sleeping! Get up now. It's sickly behaviour to sleep this late. Get a job!
Me (having been studying, writing or preparing prints for sale half the night): Dad, give it a rest.
Dad: Don't tell me to fucking give it a rest, this is sick. Get up!
Me: ...

Me: I'm thinking on publishing this myself.
Aunt nr2: Nonsense, you must send it to publishers.
Me: I'm thinking about it, but I've a hard time finding markets that pay for stuff that's been available online.
Aunt nr2: It doesn't matter, if it's good, people will want it.
Me: If you go against writers' guidelines people will not be pleased.
Aunt nr2: Nonsense, send it out. Send it everywhere!
Me: Poetry is a tough sell in Sweden, I'm looking for international markets and it takes time.
Aunt nr2: That's rubbish, of course people publish Poetry in Sweden, just look in the library.
Me: The market is too small, it doesn't pay.
Aunt nr2: Then send it abroad, send it everywhere.
Me: As I said -I'm looking for markets.
Aunt nr2: Stop looking and send it everywhere.
Me (mentally groaning): ...yes ma'am.

Mom: You have to send these out for publication.
Me: I'll try.

Me: I've sent off some stuff for publication.
Mom (absently): That's nice.
Me: I woke when dad stomped into my bedroom toady, but I got up at 9:30.
Mom (looks dangerous): Have you studied today? Normal people put in hours between 8 and 5 you know.
Me: Not that much, I've been writing. And there are people who work night shifts you know.
Mom: They work between 10 and 7.
Me: ... (counts mentally the hours spent working on my projects and know I'd be due some overtime if anybody actually paid me).

Everybody: What do you plan to become?
Me: I write, I want to be a writer.
Everybody: But what do you want to work as?
Me: Copywriter or communications director.
Everybody: Ok. And when that doesn't work?
Me: There's always something to do. I can work as a bartender maybe, while writing on the side.

Everybody: You're so good, you have to send this to a publisher.
Me: I'm working on it.

And a bonus...
Dad: Are you playing or doing something important?
Me: I'm brushing up on my webdesign skills.
Dad: Don't you have more important things to do?
...
Dad: So how much do you want for doing a homepage for my friend?
Me: ... (breathes slowly)


...

It's like nobody realizes the amount of time and work it takes excel in a creative profession. They think you're talented and should be published, look for work etc, but gods forgive you actually put in any time into developing said talents. That time should be spent elsewhere. If your best creative writing/programming/creating is done during the night hours then that's just too bad because normal people sleep during the night and thus -so should you.

And...well... *takes a breath*

//End rant.

engmajor2005
11-30-2006, 09:09 PM
1. Anytime my Mom reminds that so many authors are only famous post-humously.

2. Anytime my Mom expresses the opinion that I should go to library school and put writing on the back burner.

3. Anytime I tell my Mom that I've had something published and she responds with the adult equivalent of a pat on the head and a "that's nice dear."

4. Anytime anybody assumes that since I don't write red-blooded, hyper-masculine, All-American gun-slinging techno thrillers, I'm gay.

5. "Why don't you write happy stuff?" You want happy, go to f*cking Disney World.

6. From the family: "Why don't you write about the glory of God/about how Jesus came to save us all from an eternity of damnation/about the greatness of America?"

:rolleyes:

Sean D. Schaffer
11-30-2006, 09:16 PM
4. Anytime anybody assumes that since I don't write red-blooded, hyper-masculine, All-American gun-slinging techno thrillers, I'm gay.


I hear you. I sometimes get that, too.



6. From the family: "Why don't you write about the glory of God/about how Jesus came to save us all from an eternity of damnation/about the greatness of America?"

:rolleyes:


I don't get that so much from my family, but I do get it from other people. I mean, what I write is kind of my business. People, for some reason, think that's a bad attitude on my part. I sometimes wish people would shut the f*ck up about what I write!


:rant:

engmajor2005
11-30-2006, 09:23 PM
Yeah, writers get the "why don't you write want people read" all the time I understand.

Let's see how this would work in other businesses, shall we?

Dear Apple,
I love your iPod. It is my best friend. I have my iPod with me all the time. There's just one problem. It's only a 3rd gen 20GB model, and I would like one like this:

1. 100GB
2. Only 1/10th of an inch thick.
3. Full-color display with video capabilites.
4. Pink and black.
5. That comes pre-packaged with those noise-reducing headphones.

Oh, and I want it for free.

Thanks,
Your Devoted Customer.

Athenae
11-30-2006, 10:09 PM
I get the "can you make a living doing that" one all the time, and it never fails to make me angry. I don't ask my cousins what they're making at their jobs. I don't even know what my best friends make at their jobs. Maybe it's just how I was brought up, but asking someone about money (and it's always casual acquaintances and distant relatives who do this, too, never people you'd actually feel comfortable telling) is just rude. "How's the book going" or even "Have you sold the book yet?" are general questions, not implied judgments. Nobody would ever ask a teacher or a mechanic if he or she was making rent doing "that."

Can you tell I'm dreading going home for the holidays?

/rant

I tend to answer that one, by the way, by turning the conversation back to the new baby or the latest wedding, since those are generally safe subjects.

A.

MichelD
11-30-2006, 10:23 PM
It's not stupid, in a way it was almost in awe and respect that this remark was made.

My father, who was a logger all his life, skilled with chain saws, files, dozer boats, boring machines and boom winches always said he wanted me to do something "with your head, not your hands, like me."

However, I worked for 19 years from 1971 to 1990 in the logging and fishing industries, and then in 1990 through a bizarre set of circumstances ( mostly desire rather than skill at that point) I became assistant editor of the fishermen's union newspaper, a staff job.

After that when people asked my father what I was doing, he told people that "he doesn't have to work any more, he just writes."

jamiehall
11-30-2006, 10:51 PM
I hate talking about being a writer, and one reason is the clueless comments (for some reason, I've found I usually can't talk sense into such people regardless of how long I explain or how much detail I go into).

It seems that most people make one of two assumptions right off the bat:
(1) I am famous and rich, or will be soon.
(2) Writing is a total waste of my time and the sooner I can be convinced to give it up, even as a hobby, the happier I'll be.

All this without knowing anything about what I write. Suddenly, people think they are experts in which direction my writing career should head.

I also get tired of explaining that having a self-published POD book (http://www.jamiehall.org/) does not make me a real author. I've had too many people continue to fall all over themselves admiring me when they find this out, regardless of me telling them that a five-year-old banging on a keyboard randomly could "publish" a book this way, so that merely being self-published isn't something they should admire without knowing a thing about the book itself.

WerenCole
11-30-2006, 11:05 PM
My ex-girlfriend read my first novel and said; "WE are going to make a lot of money off this."


We?

Tiger
11-30-2006, 11:09 PM
It's not stupid, in a way it was almost in awe and respect that this remark was made.

My father, who was a logger all his life, skilled with chain saws, files, dozer boats, boring machines and boom winches always said he wanted me to do something "with your head, not your hands, like me."

However, I worked for 19 years from 1971 to 1990 in the logging and fishing industries, and then in 1990 through a bizarre set of circumstances ( moslty desire rather than skill at that point) I became assistant editor of the fishermen's union newspaper, a staff job.

After that when people asked my father what i was doing, he told people that "he doesn't have to work any more, he just writes."

I keep thinking what any of us would say at a party, if we met someone who said they were say, a primatologist. Would we politely change the subject--or maybe scramble off and do some quick research so we can discuss her job without making her angry?

RTH
11-30-2006, 11:14 PM
I'm a primatologist AND a writer, and I don't like it when people ask me about either. Sort of the same reaction either way. ;)

Bubastes
11-30-2006, 11:15 PM
I keep thinking what any of us would say at a party, if we met someone who said they were say, a primatologist. Would we politely change the subject--or maybe scramble off and do some quick research so we can discuss her job without making her angry?

Easy. I'd encourage them to tell me more (and base the questions on what they've said to me, NOT on my own preconceptions because, after all, I know nothing about their subject) -- it's a great way to learn something new!

Again, the difference is that writers are actually interested in hearing what others have to say (at least I hope so!). It's our job. I think the difference is that many of these stupid comments are coming from people who "listen" as a way to mark time until they can spout off again rather than actually listening to the other person and maybe learning something in the process.

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Too bad most people don't get it.

Higgins
11-30-2006, 11:28 PM
My mom won't read my work because I call it horror. She says she thinks I'll be too gorey. So I asked her "who's your favorite author?" She said Jonathan Kellerman. So I go find a book by JK. The first chapter has a series of mutilations and same gender sex.

"MOTHER! Why do you read this crap?"

"He uses short paragraphs."

I write about monsters. He writes about a detective. I guess it depends on who is doing the mutilating. Go figure...

Short paragraphs? I'm unable to fathom that as a definite attraction one way or another.

Silverhand
11-30-2006, 11:34 PM
Someone above me mentioned that they hated the fact friends and even family wanted copies for free.

I have no problem giving away what I can...but to think that I have boxes of books just lying around, irks me.

C.bronco
11-30-2006, 11:37 PM
Here's a variation on the theme:
Someone once said to me, "Oh, I'm sure if I were an English major, I would have had all A's."

jamiehall
11-30-2006, 11:55 PM
1. Anytime my Mom reminds that so many authors are only famous post-humously.

2. Anytime my Mom expresses the opinion that I should go to library school and put writing on the back burner.

3. Anytime I tell my Mom that I've had something published and she responds with the adult equivalent of a pat on the head and a "that's nice dear."

This reminds me of stuff in Seinfeld, about Jerry's parents wanting him to get a real job.

aghast
12-01-2006, 12:19 AM
"I have a great idea for a book! You write it and we'll split the money."

"Gee, you must be rich!"

"I've always wanted to write but I've never had the time."

add to these - anything i have read, and are you famous? like, duh - oh yeah get that 'are you going on oprah' thing a lot

Tiger
12-01-2006, 12:26 AM
I'm a primatologist AND a writer, and I don't like it when people ask me about either. Sort of the same reaction either way. ;)

Okay... Now I'm getting visions of a chimpanzee approaching her alpha female saying: "would you look at that? There's another one of those tall, funny-walking, bald things that keeps looking at us through a tube and pecking at a flat rock with its fingers. It keeps misreading even my most basic vocalizations! I feel like telling it to go get groomed!"

-D :)

underthecity
12-01-2006, 01:16 AM
I've read through this whole thread. I'm not sure if I should be jealous or relieved that I have not ever been asked or told MOST of what I've seen here.

However, I have gotten some comments over the years that aren't necessarily stupid. Judge for yourself:

You have three books published? What are you doing working HERE? (I get this at my day job past and present. I explain that I don't make a living off my writing yet and have to work full time until that happens. Which means I will be there for a long while.)

Why don't you write books about THESE topics? (Topics are for very narrow nonfiction. If I actually DID write them and somehow did find a publisher, the books would sell maybe two or three hundred copies. Not worth my time, but I still get asked anyway.)

<Person flips through book> You write this whole thing? (No, just some of it. I can't remember which words.)

$19.99 is too much for this. It's only 128 pages. (Yeah, but I put two years of work into it. Believe me, it's worth it.)

Can I get a free copy of your book? (I covered this in another thread.)

allen

aghast
12-01-2006, 02:01 AM
oh yeah people ask for free books all the time like they expect doctors to give away free surgeries and pharmacists give away free medicine and prostitute ... you know... for free

Shara
12-01-2006, 02:42 AM
I have a good one from my former boss (note use of the word 'former' - I have since changed jobs).

He was giving me a chewing out for not having my attention on the job. Admittedly it wasn't, because at the time I was looking for another job (which he didn't know).

Anyway what he said was, words to the effect of: I know you want to be a writer instead of a secretary. But you're 35 now - if you were going to make it, you'd be earning a living writing now, so you should accept that it's not going to happen and you should focus on what you do do for a living instead.

It took me a while to get over that one - at the time it was a pretty severe blow to my self-esteem.

Shara

Athenae
12-01-2006, 04:03 AM
I keep thinking what any of us would say at a party, if we met someone who said they were say, a primatologist. Would we politely change the subject--or maybe scramble off and do some quick research so we can discuss her job without making her angry?

There's a dozen acceptable responses when someone tells you they do something for a living no matter what that is, including but not limited to:

1. Do you enjoy it?
2. How long have you been doing that?
3. How did you become interested in being a primatologist/writer/doctor/lawyer?
4. What do you find rewarding about it?

Even a simple "what does that involve" is more polite than "so, are you famous?" or any of the other irritating things listed here.

I was a newspaper reporter for years and constantly dealt with people who had occupations with which I was not familiar. People love to talk about their passions if they're asked questions sincerely and with interest, rather than sneeringly. "Do you make a living at that?" isn't sincere interest. It implies an assumption and an offensive one at that.

A.

ps. For what it's worth, I think doctors and lawyers have this situation worse. Imagine people wanting to show you their boils at parties or asking you for legal advice about their messy divorces. Or telling lawyer jokes.

Cat Scratch
12-01-2006, 04:15 AM
If I meet someone with a job I'm not familiar with, I often ask the question: "What's the most annoying thing you hear/are asked when people learn you're a proctologist?" And I agree, asking questions isn't annoying, but some questions are nosey and condescending ("You can't make a living at that, can you?")

Cat Scratch
12-01-2006, 04:22 AM
Oh, I forgot, however, the people who can't distinguish fiction from reality. My fiction is decidedly dark at times, and often readers are concerned about me after reading/witnessing something I've written. I genuinely appreciate their concern, but sometimes it's really difficult convincing them that it's JUST MADE UP. These individuals feel "Well, it had to come from SOMEwhere!" and think that I'm disguising it as "fiction" as a means of confessing some deep, dark secret. Um, nope. I just make crap up.

ritinrider
12-01-2006, 04:28 AM
"One short story I wrote in high school, was about a high school kid who got into habitual drug use and then drove his car off a cliff.

I got an A+ for it, but it wasn't the kind of thing I wanted to show my folks--especially after just getting my driver's license.

What do you say when they ask?"

Since your parents were supportive show it to them, just remind them that it's fiction and not something you plan on acting out. We actually had a teacher tell my husband we should get our son into counsling (sp) based on a story he wrote for her class. She said it was disturbing, and he needed help.

He was in 7 or 8th grade. The story was about a boy, or group I forget, taveling across the country any way they could. Hitchhiking, jumping trains, whatever. There's murder and mayham in the story, and apparently (I didn't get to read the story) it was very graphic. Heads rolling, blood gushing, that kind of thing.

My husband looked at her and asked, "was it well written?"
teacher, "I suppose"
husband, "what's his grade on it?"
teacher,"A"
husband, "I don't see a problem"
teacher, "he's disturbed."
husband, "doubt it. just creative, his mother is too"

I wish we could've read the story, but for some reason the teacher didn't give it to us, or return it to my son. I had to ask him about the story, he couldn't remember all of it, he'd written it during class. Not a lot of thought went into it, he was just doing an assignment.

Although, I suspect some thought did go into it, and he wrote the bloodiest, goriest thing he could just to freak her.

ChaosTitan
12-01-2006, 04:37 AM
My husband looked at her and asked, "was it well written?"
teacher, "I suppose"
husband, "what's his grade on it?"
teacher,"A"
husband, "I don't see a problem"
teacher, "he's disturbed."
husband, "doubt it. just creative, his mother is too"


:roll: Oh to be a fly on the wall during that conversation...

janetbellinger
12-01-2006, 04:40 AM
Oh well, I say plenty of stupid things to people in other occupations, so I can afford to be generous here.

Matthew Warner
12-01-2006, 04:42 AM
"[Blah blah, some stupid anecdote.] Hey! You should put THAT into a story!"

"Hurry up and get rich so I can move to Lake Tahoe."

Tiger
12-01-2006, 06:41 AM
There's a dozen acceptable responses when someone tells you they do something for a living no matter what that is, including but not limited to:

1. Do you enjoy it?
2. How long have you been doing that?
3. How did you become interested in being a primatologist/writer/doctor/lawyer?
4. What do you find rewarding about it?



Well, Iíve witnessed responses like this to your first example:


ďIdiot asked me if I enjoy what I do. A-duhÖ! If I didnít enjoy it, I wouldnít be doing it, would I?Ē


Look, it was never my intent to stand up for the presumptuous or the obnoxious. Iím just suggesting that a large part of cluelessness involves people not knowing they are clueless. Perhaps I should not have hit the buzzer at all forms of irritation that people experience when talking writing with non-writers.


I apologize if I offended anyone.

-D

WerenCole
12-01-2006, 06:45 AM
Here's a variation on the theme:
Someone once said to me, "Oh, I'm sure if I were an English major, I would have had all A's."


But. . .I DO get all A's. . .

aghast
12-01-2006, 06:52 AM
Anyway what he said was, words to the effect of: I know you want to be a writer instead of a secretary. But you're 35 now - if you were going to make it, you'd be earning a living writing now, so you should accept that it's not going to happen and you should focus on what you do do for a living instead.

It took me a while to get over that one - at the time it was a pretty severe blow to my self-esteem.

i got my first story sold at age 43 and am now making good living doing what i love and william diehl wrote his first book at age 53 and soon became a best selling author - you can quote me when you speak to your boss next

Silver King
12-01-2006, 07:20 AM
i got my first story sold at age 43
Same here. It helped that it was a glossy that paid good dough. As for the story, I couldn't have written it when I was twenty or thirty or even forty-two.

When it comes to age, there isn't a numerical value that works better than any other. You'll know when you're ready. All that really matters is that you recognize when the time is right for you to start writing. And just think: You've got a great deal more life experience to write about now than you did when you were younger.

Go for it.

Melissa_Marr
12-01-2006, 07:31 AM
Trapped in small talk at a party--

Person: ___ says you write.
Me: Mm-hmm.
Person: *pauses* So do you want to take notes or anything while we talk? I'm a pretty interesting character.
Me: Umm . . . well . . .

Such remarks pretty much eliminate any ability I have to be articulate. I had no clue how to reply to that.

SLake
12-01-2006, 07:51 AM
I've read through this whole thread. I'm not sure if I should be jealous or relieved that I have not ever been asked or told MOST of what I've seen here.

Me too and not Me too. I read the whole thread so that I don't get a smack for going off topic. But I've heard MOST.

Stepmother: "Why can't you be like me and write on the bus on the way to work? I've written 3 novels that way."
Me: "I'd like to read them."
Stepmother: "I put the MSS away somewhere"
Mother: "It's time you grew up and got with real life. Get a proper job..." Seems they're familiar comments with other posters too.
My father's comments were the best: "..." --silence.
My son's teacher: "I write for the school paper, (inspirational allusions) but I wouldn't have the audacity to call myself a writer." I'd told him already that I write. He slipped the comment in when we were discussing something else.
Accountant boss where I worked--told me some of the pitfalls of the writing life that most everyone here knows only too well. And, "at some point one has to forget one's dreams and think seriously about one's future." Only afterwards I thought about it. Writers are frontiers' people of the real, true, final frontier, dreams, yeah!!

Another boss in Telecoms HR--wrote training programme manuals and poo-pooed ALL fantasy (all genres of fiction, she meant) writing as easy. Her writing was useful to people. At the time she was involved in a new laissez-faire, team approach to business--pronouncing laissez-faire as lazzy fairy, which I can forgive her. Her comment about fiction was rather different, but I hadn't told her my ambitions. Nor did I correct her pronunciation, but I would ask her about the new management techniques whenever we were with informed people, meow.

A poster mentioned a slackening urge to write after resistence from his/her parent's folded. My parents died and never forgave me. I left school early, smoked, drank, worse in resistence and then left the country. I think the essence of hate (I mean extreme resistence) drove me into my first love story, but oops, I guess motivations for writing is another topic.

SLake
12-01-2006, 08:07 AM
Trapped in small talk at a party--
Person: *pauses* So do you want to take notes or anything while we talk? I'm a pretty interesting character.

Reply: so am I, you take notes first, or, I'll only take notes if you've done something interesting like suicide--and off topic--bottom left of all posts next to report bad post is reputation points. I have 11 points, must be losing my touch--where can I find out what 11 means, pretty please?

jamiehall
12-01-2006, 08:17 AM
and off topic--bottom left of all posts next to report bad post is reputation points. I have 11 points, must be losing my touch--where can I find out what 11 means, pretty please?

Here:

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=47688
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10217
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=47114

SLake
12-01-2006, 09:04 AM
Here:
http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=47688
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10217
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=47114
Thank you, Jamiehall!

TwentyFour
12-01-2006, 10:08 AM
I recently had a story accepted for publication in a magazine. My fiance...a great man I might add...said to me "Oh, what's it pay?" I said "Nothing, I had the story published before and just wanted to have it in print again." He then said..."Well, you're doing the opposite of Stephen King..he got paid." OOOOOOOOOOOOOOH I was mad. I said "Listen, I didn't want paid for that one! It was a reprint, and I just wanted to find it a place to be...GRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!"

Ok, so I didn't growl at him...but you get the idea.

TwentyFour
12-01-2006, 10:17 AM
He was in 7 or 8th grade. The story was about a boy, or group I forget, taveling across the country any way they could. Hitchhiking, jumping trains, whatever. There's murder and mayham in the story, and apparently (I didn't get to read the story) it was very graphic. Heads rolling, blood gushing, that kind of thing.

Sounds like something I would have written in high school!

I did write a story with some guys during English. It was me, two boys, and a story about a gravedigger who robbed the corpses after funerals. I wrote in something like "He staggered, drunk on imbalming fluid from the local morgue, and made his way over the open grave. He spat in the dark, empty hole and then pissed upon the underbelly of some dead man's hell."

My teacher was disturbed also, she loved it immensely!

chicagogal
12-01-2006, 10:54 AM
Well, I lost my most supportive and understanding fan when my husband became ill and passed away. He was my encouragement and championed everything I wrote. I had a great sister in law who saved everything I ever had published. When she moved away, she gave her memorabillia to another member of the family. I think it disappeared. Now a days, I pat myself on the back for perservering, and try to be my own champion. Oh yes, I am getting much more patient and nicer about
answering inane questions like "who do you write for?are you still writing , when are you going to finish that book," etc. My smile muscles are getting a lot of exercise these days.It's good to have all of you at AW who understand and cheer each other on.

BottomlessCup
12-01-2006, 11:23 AM
ME: "I write screenplays."
GUY I WORK WITH: "So, you, like, write down what happens in the movie?"


"You wanna make movies? You should make porno movies." I have heard this at least a hundred times. Not exaggerating.

Joanna_S
12-01-2006, 11:24 AM
My mom has been incredibly supportive of my writing, but even she had some chinks in the armour. When I was trying to get my TV writing career going, she was too embarrassed to tell her friends what I was doing. Even when I got a staff job, she rarely mentioned it, because it wasn't a show her friends watched.

However, when I started getting books published, it's quite possible that she told every single person in the town of 10,000 where she lives. She became a pusher, ordering books in quantity and selling them to any comers. Why the difference? That's easy -- Mom is a librarian. Books have always been her holy grails and having a daughter who writes books is about as good as it gets. Her library ordered some of my books without her mentioning a thing (she refused to push any of my titles at the library because she wanted them to do it without her influence). She still talks about it and tells me whenever they're checked out. If I do nothing else of note in my life, I know that Mom will always be proud that her daughter wrote books.

-- Joanna

Melissa_Marr
12-01-2006, 04:58 PM
Here:

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=47688
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10217
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=47114

I never noticed this, so thank you to SLake for asking & to jamiehall for answering.

Melissa

SLake
12-02-2006, 03:56 AM
I never noticed this, so thank you to SLake for asking & to jamiehall for answering. Melissa

I hope we get points for this :)

Tiger
12-03-2006, 08:52 AM
Okay...

I need to thank MeowGirl for starting this thread, and everyone else who contributed to it.

I've just done my first interview since before I started here. Although I cannot be certain how different my questions and comments might have been otherwise, I do know that I was conscious about the intrinsic value of each and every one.

The interview subject is quite famous and is probably more sick of inane verbiage than anyone here.

Muchas Mahalos for a valuable reminder.

-Dean

Cat Scratch
12-03-2006, 09:24 AM
Well gosh, now you have to let us know who you interviewed. Was it someone from Pearl Jam?

Silver King
12-03-2006, 09:48 AM
Well, I lost my most supportive and understanding fan when my husband became ill and passed away. He was my encouragement and championed everything I wrote.
You broke my heart, Gal, in a good and bad way, if there is such a thing...

OneTeam OneDream
12-03-2006, 10:47 AM
I was at a local tavern (hometown hangout) and was with some friends. I was talking about writing my first MS. One of my friends is a beta reader for me. Some old guy that drinks too much and talks too much says, "hey! You could put us in the book! That would be great! There's gotta be a place in there for you to put all of us here in that book! This place is something special. You could write it and even use our real names."
:head smack:
"It's chick lit. I really doubt 5 drunk guys at the tavern down the street would have any bearing on the story."
"Well you could write it so it takes place in this town and then you could put us in."
Thankfully someone distracted him with a subject change to sports.

Sounds like a place I know in Waterloo.

OneTeam OneDream
12-03-2006, 10:56 AM
The one I get the most and my personal favorite..... "Can I get a free copy when the book comes out?"


I usually find a way to not answer, however what I want to say is along the lines of "Sure, I've written this book, the publisher is putting x amount of dollars into getting people to buy it, simply so YOU can get a free copy that you'd probably never read."

Tiger
12-03-2006, 11:26 AM
Well gosh, now you have to let us know who you interviewed. Was it someone from Pearl Jam?

Come February, you'll be the first to know! :)

Ms.Write
12-04-2006, 01:46 AM
I was working full-time in the corporate world when a visitor from our Brazil office came over. He heard that I wrote fiction on the side and asked, "So, how many books do you sell every year?" I was tongue-tied.

limitedtimeauthor
12-04-2006, 02:49 AM
Well, that's funny. Not necessarily stupid - just uninformed.

I'm sure there's a thread on a board somewhere with "Stupid things non-engineers say" with my name all over it. :)

ltd.

Kate Thornton
12-04-2006, 06:13 AM
I was at a book signing today and I was signing an anthology with a batch of other writers. We were all at one table, with the book displayed and everyone smiling, pen ready. Here are the highlights:

"Do I have to buy the book to get you to sign it?"
"Can you sign it as someone else?" (Stephen King?)
"Can you sign this other book, too?" (Not written by any of us)
"How much do you have to pay to sign your books in a store?"
"How much does it cost to have you sign the book?" (We all had the deer in the headlights look as the nice lady offered us $$ - but we explained that if you buy the book, the authors will sign it for you *for free*!!)

Jeeze, I had a great time! Gonna do it again Tuesday night & next Saturday, too.

JeanneTGC
12-04-2006, 06:48 AM
I laughed and cringed all the way through that, Kate.

All I can say is, I look forward to a book signing. In one of those sado-masochistic ways.:D

Tiger
12-04-2006, 06:55 AM
I was working full-time in the corporate world when a visitor from our Brazil office came over. He heard that I wrote fiction on the side and asked, "So, how many books do you sell every year?" I was tongue-tied.

Sorry, I don't grok the faux pas in this...

scarletpeaches
12-04-2006, 08:04 AM
From my ex boyfriend (by email, after he'd dumped me): "So when are you gonna be rich and famous, then? I've told all my workmates about you, and they're really impressed I used to go out with a writer."

Yeah. YOU finish with ME and I'm expected to shape my career after YOUR ego, so you don't look like an idiot in front of your workmates that you didn't tell about me when we were dating, for the pure pleasure of talking about me? You waited to talk about me until we were over, then you boast about my future earning potential?

From everyone: "When you're published, can I have a free copy?"

No. Buy the damn thing, so I make money off it.

From my aunt: "You've had another rejection? Why don't you write back to the agent and ask why they said no?"

Yeah, the agent doesn't have anyone else to deal with, and I don't have anything else to write. Still, my aunt gave me half the money for the laptop on which I'm currently typing so she gets a free stupidity pass until I'm published. ;)

Lisamer
12-04-2006, 09:31 AM
Anything said to me while I am furiously typing away is stupid!

writingmom
12-04-2006, 10:36 AM
I can't even imagine what it would feel like to be a published author ! The feeling of "I did it , now who will like it ? as the little green monster inside of me was leaving..Seems you did have a fun day, and congradulations !

seun
12-04-2006, 02:11 PM
From my aunt: "You've had another rejection? Why don't you write back to the agent and ask why they said no?"

I get that all the time. I keep telling people that agents who aren't interested in my work are not going to be interested in discussing why they don't like it. The reply to that is usually: "Well, it's worth asking, anyway."

Excuse me while I bang my head against the wall...

FergieC
12-04-2006, 03:15 PM
I'm sure there's a thread on a board somewhere with "Stupid things non-engineers say" with my name all over it.

I used to work in a engineering library. You learn all sort of interesting and useless things, like that they use something called a "Christmas tree" (I think it's something to do with drilling and the oil industry). Of course, you learn these things be looking like a complete moron the first time someone asks if you can find them any information about Chrstmas trees and you come back with Norwegian Spruce information... :Headbang:

So I have some sympathy for non-writers who ask dumb things.

Joanna_S
12-04-2006, 03:47 PM
I used to work with a bunch of engineers in the Advanced Combustion Devices dept. in an aerospace company. I noticed in the supply catalog that tampons were listed. I voiced my incredulity to one of the engineers and he said they used them to clean injectors because they're so absorbant. Every profession has stupid questions, I'm sure. That's why this thread is fun -- we get to grumble a bit and then move on.

So... anyone want to give me a free book?

-- Joanna

Kate Thornton
12-04-2006, 07:50 PM
Well, that's a legitimate question, though. I work at an sf/comic/fantasy/horror/tv convention once a year, and most of the celebrities charge $20 just for their signature - per item. I'm not just talking about actors, either, and it's better to be prepared to potentially pay a ton than to see the disappointed looks of people when they realize they have to pay. And it's not even usually at the discretion of the guests in question, but their managers, agents, etc.

So this one year we had a very well-known author, and we emailed him to ask him how much he'd be charging. The response was awesome:

"Well, originally I used to sign my books for free. But after I won my Hugo Award, I decided to charge double."

Awwww. I loved that man.

Jade, I'd love him, too! And I'm gonna steal that line if I need it again.

Yeshanu
12-04-2006, 10:18 PM
Sounds like a place I know in Waterloo.

Chris: Waterloo, as in Waterloo, ON????


And just think: You've got a great deal more life experience to write about now than you did when you were younger.

I'll second this. I've been writing for most of my life, and my writing is getting better and deeper, because I've got more experience to put into it. Lawrence Block says writers are the luckiest people in the world, because we don't have to retire if we don't want to -- physically, we can keep going somehow or other until we drop dead or get tired of the game.

Re: Parents reading stuff their kids wrote. I'm both a child and a parent. I occasionally give my parents gifts which include bound copies of stuff my kids and I and even my ex has written (it's a bad habit in our family.) When I wrote my first novel, I printed off a few copies on my computer for my family, hoping to get useful criticism. My dad, to this day, thinks it's a publishable work and that I'm a fool for trying to edit it. Arrgh!

On the other hand, as a parent, sometimes my kids ask me to read their writing and make comments. My son (English major at University) had me read a poem, and then the email his creative writing teacher had sent regarding the poem. The poem was a reallly good one with a gay erotic theme.

My comments: If you want to get this published, I'll ask my on-line friends for market suggestions.
Prof's comment: If this poem is autobiographical, you know that our class is safe for you to come out.

<shakes head> I don't know whether or not my son is gay. I'll find out when he actually brings home a partner, I guess. But a creative writing prof ought to know that not everything one writes is autobiographical. My best poem was about what it's like to be blind, and I'm definitely not. Yet, at least.

I think that a lot of the dumb comments and questions come from the attitude that doing artistic and creative stuff involves something formless called "talent," which is innate and can't be developed, instead of "skill," which takes time and effort to develop.

I guess that's the difference between the questions a doctor or a lawyer would get, and the ones a writer or a visual artist or a musician would get. They assume that artists, because we "play," don't also have to work at what we do.

But I'll have to admit, the over-the-top dumbest thing anyone's ever said to me about what I do for a living hasn't been about my writing, but about what it's like to be a minister in a church.

"That must be a great job! You only have to work one hour per week!"

ARGH!

jamiehall
12-04-2006, 11:20 PM
My son (English major at University) had me read a poem, and then the email his creative writing teacher had sent regarding the poem. The poem was a reallly good one with a gay erotic theme.

My comments: If you want to get this published, I'll ask my on-line friends for market suggestions.
Prof's comment: If this poem is autobiographical, you know that our class is safe for you to come out.

<shakes head> I don't know whether or not my son is gay. I'll find out when he actually brings home a partner, I guess. But a creative writing prof ought to know that not everything one writes is autobiographical. My best poem was about what it's like to be blind, and I'm definitely not. Yet, at least.

Some people don't understand that it is entirely possible for writers to write about situations they have never personally experienced. Yes, there is a lot of semi-autobiographical fiction out there, but your writing doesn't have to be based on your own life.

I've got two examples of that:

(1) A short story I wrote at age 12 or so was set in a bar. My mother got very angry with me because she was convinced that I had been in a bar, and it was very difficult to convince her I hadn't.

(2) I still get occasional emails from very serious weirdos who want to ask me if I'm a werewolf (see my werewolf folklore book (http://www.jamiehall.org/halfhuman.htm)).

It should also be noted that plenty of authors get weird reactions from others if they write about a main character who is suicidal. People wonder if the writer is suicidal.

Science fiction is stuffed with experiences that the writers never had. I don't think there are any science fiction authors who have even been in outer space.

Tiger
12-04-2006, 11:24 PM
Science fiction is stuffed with experiences that the writers never had. I don't think there are any science fiction authors who have even been in outer space.

I loved "Footfall," in which the Earth was invaded by elephants and then saved by science fiction writers.

The Elephant part was at least beyond human experience. I hope.

-D

Cat Scratch
12-05-2006, 03:19 AM
Come February, you'll be the first to know! :)

Aww, you tease! At least tell me which publication?

WildScribe
12-05-2006, 05:38 AM
I got a ton of supportive emails after I wrote a poem about an old woman at the end of her life who is looking backwards. When I tried to tell them that I was 18 (at the time) I got a lot of emails about denial, and one person who straight up called me a liar.

"You're obviously not a teenager. If you didn't want people to know, you shouldn't have written your poem."

It was hilarious. One of my other "favorites":

"Can I be in your book???"

SLake
12-05-2006, 06:37 AM
Yeah, the sometimes idle comment, all writing is autobiographical is a real barb for me, or grrr, grrr, (to quote a previous poster), and the 18yo person with poem really highlighted the issue. (Yeshanu too--son's gay story, and there'll be others!).

And I saw a documentary about a book treated as a bible by vicious Brit skinheads. The writer turned out to be a quiet family guy.

The most shocking comment (but I guess crudely complimentary) I had about my women's/mainstream fiction was from a lesbian acquaintance, all smarmy about some erotic sections of my writing, suggesting my wife and I have a threesome with her. My wife showed her the door.

icerose
12-05-2006, 08:37 AM
I've been pretty lucky I guess. The ones I know have been extremely gracious and ask things with only the best intentions and with genuine curiosity.

If it wasn't out of those last two them in comes my oblivious nature and I wouldn't have noticed the difference anyway. I can feel the jealously swarming now. :D Just kidding, well all except the oblivious nature because I really do tend to be oblivious.

J.S Greer
12-05-2006, 12:23 PM
I hear this from time to time:

"I could write, but books are boring." UGH.

Nakhlasmoke
12-05-2006, 01:37 PM
I find it odd when people say "Oh, I've always wanted to write," in this wistful tone, as if someone has passed a decree that they may never sit down with a pen and paper, and ever ever, on pain of death, jot something down.

Next time a friend or relative says that to me, they're getting a diary and a fountain pen for Christmas.

The other thing that bugs me is when people ask to be put in my novels. I tend to turn around and say, "I'm writing gay werewolf fantasy, where everyone dies in the end. Are you quite certain?"

Yeshanu
12-05-2006, 06:26 PM
I hear this from time to time:

"I could write, but books are boring." UGH.

And you gotta bite your tongue to keep from saying, "And so are you..."

(Sorry. That snide remark just wouldn't stay in. I'll go away now...)

PeeDee
12-05-2006, 06:32 PM
"HERE'S a tip! GET a REAL job! BWA HAW HAW HAW..."

Never mock a writer. He's the one person who has, while you were speaking, already plotted out a totally interesting way to kill you and get rid of the body.

The one time someone said "Can I be in your book???" to me, I put them in. And murdered them. Badly. No one has asked again.

RTH
12-05-2006, 08:22 PM
And if they happen to be murdered in real life, you have that "resemblance to real persons is entirely coincidental" clause to protect you. :tongue

Andre_Laurent
12-05-2006, 08:25 PM
From spouse: Until you're making money, this is just a hobby.

From spouse: I don't like the end. I hope you don't make $4 because your MC is evil and you didn't kill him. Uh, it's fiction.

Sean D. Schaffer
12-06-2006, 02:48 AM
"You can only write what you know, and since you only know High School, all you can write about is High School."

-- My Step-father, when I was in High School.


I didn't have the heart to tell him Gene Roddenberry had never been aboard a Federation starship before he wrote Star Trek. I sure as heck wanted to, though.

LeslieB
12-06-2006, 04:17 AM
Sorry, I don't grok the faux pas in this...

Because asking how many books someone has sold is the social equivalent of asking them how much money they make.

*sigh* I wish I was taken seriously enough to get stupid questions or comments. Except for my husband and parents, I only get the 'yeah, right' eyeroll when I mention the manuscript I'm working on.

engmajor2005
12-06-2006, 04:32 AM
Anything said to me while I am furiously typing away is stupid!

Here here!

engmajor2005
12-06-2006, 04:34 AM
Well, that's a legitimate question, though. I work at an sf/comic/fantasy/horror/tv convention once a year, and most of the celebrities charge $20 just for their signature - per item. I'm not just talking about actors, either, and it's better to be prepared to potentially pay a ton than to see the disappointed looks of people when they realize they have to pay. And it's not even usually at the discretion of the guests in question, but their managers, agents, etc.

So this one year we had a very well-known author, and we emailed him to ask him how much he'd be charging. The response was awesome:

"Well, originally I used to sign my books for free. But after I won my Hugo Award, I decided to charge double."

Awwww. I loved that man.

Sounds like something Neil Gaiman would say...

SLake
12-06-2006, 05:20 AM
"You can only write what you know, and since you only know High School, all you can write about is High School."

-- My Step-father, when I was in High School.

I didn't have the heart to tell him Gene Roddenberry had never been aboard a Federation starship before he wrote Star Trek. I sure as heck wanted to, though.

Yeah, it's just typical. Writers have to do all the thinking. Everyone else, engineers included are just there to put up scenery:D

Cat Scratch
12-06-2006, 09:00 AM
I find it odd when people say "Oh, I've always wanted to write," in this wistful tone, as if someone has passed a decree that they may never sit down with a pen and paper, and ever ever, on pain of death, jot something down.


I hear this a lot, and it's amazing how many of them quickly prove they actually DON'T want to write, even when given a little (or a lot) of encouragement. I've invited relatives, co-workers, friends to writer's groups, forums, bought writing books as gifts, offered to exchange works in progress, and basically become entire cheering sections for people who listlessly picture themselves writing but never actually do it.

Nakhlasmoke
12-06-2006, 09:56 AM
... people who listlessly picture themselves writing but never actually do it.

Do you think this is possibly because after sitting down for a few minutes, and trying to write, they (gasp) figure out that it's actually work?

Nah.

Don't you know anyone could write a bestseller, they just don't have the time right now?

Bubastes
12-06-2006, 08:04 PM
Do you think this is possibly because after sitting down for a few minutes, and trying to write, they (gasp) figure out that it's actually work?

Nah.

Don't you know anyone could write a bestseller, they just don't have the time right now?

Oh yeah, lots of people. I don't sweat over it, though. Fewer people writing = more room in the slush for me. :D

Kudra
12-06-2006, 08:54 PM
"So are you living off your royalties yet?"

(I write non-fiction for magazines and newspapers. No books yet.)

JeanneTGC
12-07-2006, 02:34 AM
I hear this a lot, and it's amazing how many of them quickly prove they actually DON'T want to write, even when given a little (or a lot) of encouragement. I've invited relatives, co-workers, friends to writer's groups, forums, bought writing books as gifts, offered to exchange works in progress, and basically become entire cheering sections for people who listlessly picture themselves writing but never actually do it.

I'm with you, but I stopped doing the huge support thing a while ago. I tell them when and where the conferences are, and if they are close friends, offer to let them share my hotel room at no cost to them (hey, I was going to be in it anyway). They still pass (and no, it's not due to the fear of sleeping in the same room as me ;) ).

Until they SHOW me pages that are more than just beginner's stuff, show up on sites like this one, or actually attend a conference, I just remain pleasant and casually supportive. Each in their own time. And for some, that time may be never.

WildScribe
12-07-2006, 02:35 AM
I had an idea for a book once...

SomethingCatchy
12-07-2006, 02:49 AM
I get "You're not a writer until you get paid" a lot - the irony being I do get paid. The few times I've said that I got "Why don't you have your own house/a nicer car/own the world". Well... I guess I just didn't think about that. They're right, with two published magazine articles, why don't I have my own house?

I also get "You should get a real job, you can't be a slacker forever."

Oh - my mom's boss (accountant) said the best one:

"It must be nice to make a living doing something that's so easy."

Another one I don't like getting, because I don't know how to answer it is:

"Are you good?"

Compared too?

The thing that annoys me the most (not a quote in particular) is that people don't seem to understand that you still have to work your way up. They assume that it's just something you can do - there is no practice involved, no skill development - it all just happens *POOF* and the novel's finished.

They don't understand that there's a learning process. You can't just sit down, type something out, and it becomes a best-seller. You spend time learning what works, what doesn't. Technically everything a writer does can be qualified under "research".

Doctors get 8 years to figure out 'how to be a doctor' - most other professions get at least 4. Writer's get 0 - we're expected to be as good as Muhammed Ali the first time we step in the ring.

jamiehall
12-07-2006, 03:09 AM
I find it odd when people say "Oh, I've always wanted to write," in this wistful tone, as if someone has passed a decree that they may never sit down with a pen and paper, and ever ever, on pain of death, jot something down.

I might be the only writer who has ever heard a legitimate instance of this type of complaint. It concerns a person who can barely read (mainly because of severe learning disabilities) yet has a burning desire to someday be a writer. I can easily agree that you need to become literate first.

But hardly anyone has an excuse that good, or even any excuse whatsoever!

WildScribe
12-07-2006, 03:42 AM
He/she can dictate. It sounds like I'm being rude, but s/he could seriously look into it if they want to. You might even suggest it to him/her.

EngineerTiger
12-07-2006, 05:50 AM
"Oh, you write for a living. But, what do you actually DO?"

scarletpeaches
12-07-2006, 05:52 AM
"What do you mean, you're a writer? You're not published, are you? No-one's ever read your book. How can you call yourself a writer?"

-From a woman who is, surprisingly, still a friend of mine.

PeeDee
12-07-2006, 06:19 AM
When people ask me if I'm good, I say "I'm not being paid to be bad, and I'm being paid, sooo...."

When people say to me, "Oh, I've always wanted to write..." I say "So write." and then they offer excuses, I say "Then don't." You'll get no more sympathy than that from me.

When people say anything else, they're unknowingly passing a bar exam that runs in the background of my head. If they make it above the "idiot" bar, they find I'm suddenly listening to them.... :)

OneTeam OneDream
12-07-2006, 06:24 AM
Chris: Waterloo, as in Waterloo, ON????





ARGH!



Nah, Waterloo, Illinois. Little town outside of St. Louis.

Sage
12-07-2006, 06:47 AM
Recently, I had a couple of guys at a Borders cafe approach me as I was packing up my laptop. They were obviously drunk.

Guy: So you writing short stories?
Me: Well, no. I'm writing a novel.
Guy: You should write a novel about my life. My life is interesting
Me: I think you'd be the best one to write about your life.
Guy: Well, but you... <I kinda stopped listening as I finished packing my laptop>

The same guy stole tips out of the cafe tip jar too, so the fact that I brushed him off doesn't worry me a bit.

Me: I started a new novel!
Mom: In the same world as Euniq? (which she's read, since she was a teacher)
Me: No, it's about an Angel of Death.
Mom: Sounds dark.

That was it. The only comment she gave about it, & she gave it both times I mentioned starting up the novel. Considering two of the three points of inspiration for this novel were the show Dead Like Me & a misread license plate, it didn't start out in a dark place.

My friend Sarah (at a friend's wedding where I was the only single girl among our group of friends who attended): Well, maybe if you stopped writing for a while, you'd find somebody.

But my favorite of all time was by a singer/guitarist at Borders as two (of six, including his wife and two friends) audience members wrote in laptops: This next song is about writing books. It seems like everybody thinks they can just write a book. It's kind of like how everyone thinks they can be on a reality show.

This was before he begged for tips (because the trip home to Tennessee took a lot of gas), reminding us that he didn't get paid to come sing at Borders. Yeah, haven't quite made it big yourself, buddy!

jamiehall
12-07-2006, 07:18 AM
He/she can dictate. It sounds like I'm being rude, but s/he could seriously look into it if they want to. You might even suggest it to him/her.

The person is currently thinking about using a voice recognition program, but anticipates problems in the editing/revising stage.

SLake
12-07-2006, 07:24 AM
"What do you mean, you're a writer? You're not published, are you? No-one's ever read your book. How can you call yourself a writer?"

-From a woman who is, surprisingly, still a friend of mine.

You should check if she's a certified human.

J.S Greer
12-07-2006, 08:39 AM
Here here!

Or "Hear hear!" even. :)

I love this one:

"I got all A's in my english classes. I could write a book if I wanted too."

scarletpeaches
12-07-2006, 04:49 PM
You should check if she's a certified human.

I think she is. She does a lot of voluntary work. And believe you me, she's said a lot of sensible things in the past, and generally agrees with me on most things...so I let that one slide as a brainfart.

I'm not normally this forgiving. Let's just say she's one of my best friends. :D

Tiger
12-07-2006, 11:54 PM
"Here. Contact this person. I've just sold them an ad and we need to write a story on her..."

About what?

[Blank stare] "About HER, stupid. Duh..."

SLake
12-08-2006, 03:37 AM
I think she is. She does a lot of voluntary work. And believe you me, she's said a lot of sensible things in the past, and generally agrees with me on most things...so I let that one slide as a brainfart.

I'm not normally this forgiving. Let's just say she's one of my best friends. :D

Yerrr, ok, sorry. Er, honorary human and comes with excellent references?

Fingers
12-08-2006, 09:22 AM
The one story I wrote, I entered in a writing contest and won first place in the non fiction category. It was then published in a local publication. The story was about the day I got my finger cut off. I had a friend ask me what genre I wrote and I replied that it was an autobiographical short story. His reply? So who is it about? Also asked me if I entered my diary in a writing contest?

electric.avenue
12-10-2006, 04:25 AM
Them: "Why don't you write for the local paper?"
Me: Because I write fiction, usually fantasy/adventure stuff. I don't write stories about chavs, arsonists and people being short changed in Asda."

Now there's a story:

Group of people in sportswear and baseball caps burn down Asda after receiving the wrong change.

electric.avenue
12-10-2006, 04:33 AM
I get the "can you make a living doing that" one all the time, and it never fails to make me angry. I don't ask my cousins what they're making at their jobs. I don't even know what my best friends make at their jobs. Maybe it's just how I was brought up, but asking someone about money (and it's always casual acquaintances and distant relatives who do this, too, never people you'd actually feel comfortable telling) is just rude. "How's the book going" or even "Have you sold the book yet?" are general questions, not implied judgments. Nobody would ever ask a teacher or a mechanic if he or she was making rent doing "that."

Can you tell I'm dreading going home for the holidays?

/rant

I tend to answer that one, by the way, by turning the conversation back to the new baby or the latest wedding, since those are generally safe subjects.

A.

Athenae, you've hit the nail on the head. I always find it is casual acquaintances or distant relatives that ask the stupidest, most probing, rudest, most personal, impertinent questions. Close friends and people I value hardly ever ask questions.

PeeDee
12-10-2006, 05:02 AM
The trick is to barely answer, and not to particularly care.

ANNOYING RELATIVE: "So you write? What do you write?"
PETE: Whatever I get paid to write.
ANNOYING RELATIVE: Like, stories and stuff?
PETE: Mostly.
ANNOYING RELATIVE: I've always wanted to be a writer.
PETE: So write.
ANNOYING RELATIVE: Oh, I don't really have time or patience for it.
PETE: So don't. It's why I don't skydive.

blackbird
12-11-2006, 09:04 AM
Okay, this is a scenario I haven't heard yet, but what about this one? People who nag at you to keep "nagging" your agent. Some of the well-meaning but misguided advice I've been given:

"Call and ask them why they said no. It's your book and you have a right to know." Yeah-and so do probably five thousand other hopefuls, as well.

Then, having landed an agent:

"You need to call them every day; make sure they keep you on their radar screen." Oh yes...a most excellent way to make sure you stay on the radar screen, all right!:)

Or this from a friend who, upon learning I had an agent, asked when the book is coming out (as if my agent were a publisher, rather than someone whose job is to FIND a publisher). When I said the book hasn't sold yet, her next question: Why don't you send it somewhere else?

Or how's this nifty little jewel? Evidently thinking that my current agent is taking entirely too long to sell my novel, one friend offered this bit of wisdom:

"Tell them that you have another agent who wants your book. That'll get their attention." Ah, yes. And I'm sure my agent's next question would be, "And just when did you contact this other said agent? Presumably while you were under contract to us?" Oh, yes. Real smart.

Anyway, as I said, they mean well. They just don't have a clue how this business works. I'm always polite to their faces, but glad to have places like this where I can secretly vent! (It enables me to blow off steam so that I don't go completely postal on them!).:D

Sean D. Schaffer
12-12-2006, 07:59 AM
"Be sure to patent your book so it is never stolen from you." -- my Aunt.

I had one heck of a time explaining to her that you patent inventions, not books.

Anonymisty
12-13-2006, 07:56 PM
Oh my, I got this one yesterday:

Cluefree Individual: "When is your book coming out?"
Me: "January 2008."
CI: "That's so long! Can't you pay them more to move it up sooner?"

*headdesk*

PattiTheWicked
12-13-2006, 08:34 PM
I've set a new rule for people who say "You should put me in your book."

I tell them, "Well, I'm writing a gritty novel set in a maximum security prison. I have a guy who's about to get sexually assaulted in the shower. You up for it?"

So far, no takers.

janetbellinger
12-13-2006, 08:53 PM
Gee I envy you guys. I've never got close enough to publishing for anybody to ask me stupid questions. I just don't talk about my writing to anybody who doesn't really care about me so hardly anybody knows I write.

Higgins
12-13-2006, 09:26 PM
The trick is to barely answer, and not to particularly care.

ANNOYING RELATIVE: "So you write? What do you write?"
PETE: Whatever I get paid to write.
ANNOYING RELATIVE: Like, stories and stuff?
PETE: Mostly.
ANNOYING RELATIVE: I've always wanted to be a writer.
PETE: So write.
ANNOYING RELATIVE: Oh, I don't really have time or patience for it.
PETE: So don't. It's why I don't skydive.

Back when I was sort of an ethnologist...long ago, when there were still sort of hospitable savages sort of out there...people would ask what an ethnologist was and I would say, "They are those guys who sky-dive into the jungle and contact the locals." Of course, few people wondered about the locals...they just wanted to know about the sky diving into the jungle part...

Tiger
12-13-2006, 10:09 PM
Back when I was sort of an ethnologist...long ago, when there were still sort of hospitable savages sort of out there...people would ask what an ethnologist was and I would say, "They are those guys who sky-dive into the jungle and contact the locals." Of course, few people wondered about the locals...they just wanted to know about the sky diving into the jungle part...

I liked the one where they said that the average Native American extended family of fill-in-the-blank Nation included at least one anthropologist.

glassquill
12-14-2006, 05:55 AM
This I received from a relative:

"So, will you get paid as much as that Harry Potter lady?"

I wished. I really wished that would happen. :tongue

Celia Cyanide
12-14-2006, 06:02 AM
"Be sure to patent your book so it is never stolen from you." -- my Aunt.

I had one heck of a time explaining to her that you patent inventions, not books.

There was a thread in the novel writing forum many moons ago. It was about a gentleman who had a website pushing the idea of patenting your plot. He had a list of films which had plots he believed could be patented. Butterly Effect was among them. That whole website belongs in this thread.

Kate Thornton
12-14-2006, 06:38 PM
That whole website belongs in this thread.

LOL! There are a few out there that belong here!

Higgins
12-14-2006, 10:38 PM
I liked the one where they said that the average Native American extended family of fill-in-the-blank Nation included at least one anthropologist.

And yet, if you were not an Acoma and had business in Acoma and were so-to-speak "part of the community" you would still have to leave town for certain ceremonial events. I knew an education official who got huffy about the fact that he could not see the Cloud Spirits walk into town (though of course the Acomas did not tell him why he would have to leave town).

Sort of the opposite of Santa Claus: you can see him around town in costume but not when he comes down the chimney, whereas the Cloud Spirits aren't around and you can only see them arrive if you are within the community of those who can know such powerful secrets without ill effects.

Athenae
12-16-2006, 08:08 PM
"So, will you get paid as much as that Harry Potter lady?"

There is not enough desk for my forehead.

A.

crazynance
12-16-2006, 08:24 PM
oh, how encouraged what I am! But I feel better after laughing about the idiots. Thank goodness THEY don't write. ^_^

Tiger
12-16-2006, 11:10 PM
There is not enough desk for my forehead.

A.

I hope that means you have a small desk...:D

Silver King
12-17-2006, 01:49 AM
My sister called recently and said, "I need a favor." She went on to ask if I'd write an essay for a local contest she wanted to enter. A radio station was giving away a free boob job to the winner.

She was practically begging. "Come on. Please? I know you can write something snappy, and I might just win."

I asked why she would consider such a thing. She said, "I'm getting old. If you could see how saggy my boobs are, you wouldn't ask. All I need is a little lift."

I told her no, and I haven't heard from her since.

JeanneTGC
12-17-2006, 03:43 AM
My sister called recently and said, "I need a favor." She went on to ask if I'd write an essay for a local contest she wanted to enter. A radio station was giving away a free boob job to the winner.

She was practically begging. "Come on. Please? I know you can write something snappy, and I might just win."

I asked why she would consider such a thing. She said, "I'm getting old. If you could see how saggy my boobs are, you wouldn't ask. All I need is a little lift."

I told her no, and I haven't heard from her since.

Wow.

Umm...

Wow.

Family. Gotta love 'em. But sometimes, you do have to ask yourself, "But why?"

ebrillblaiddes
12-17-2006, 12:51 PM
Family. Gotta love 'em. But sometimes, you do have to ask yourself, "But why?" I always thought it was more like "family gives you a chance to get to know all kinds of people you'd never choose to be around." Lots of "wannabe writers" in my family, of the "I could write a book if I just..." variety. My cousin set up a word processor with spell check on her computer, so that her mom could use it to write...and her mom uses it to play games! Just goes to show, if it's in someone it'll come out no matter what, and if it's not in someone there's no pulling it out.

Beyondian
12-17-2006, 01:19 PM
"I used to do that when I was a lot younger..."
"Wow, will you write a story with me in it?"/"Will you put me in your next book?" (Unfortunately much more frequently than I would like. Also from people who are good friends)
"I wrote a short story once."
"So... what did you mean by (such-and-such) in you story?" (Asking for a literary analasis)

Sara King
12-17-2006, 02:39 PM
"So when are you going to finish?"
"Why don't you just self-publish?"
"Once you get done with that, you can start on..."
"Why don't you just call the agent?"
"I'm working on a book, too. I've got it all planned out in my head and the characters are so REAL to me, but I can't seem to get it down on paper."
"So what do you do for a job?"
"It's perfect! Send it in!"
"You missed the 'a' in 'and' and forgot to add 'it' in the sixth chapter, but other than that, the book was pretty good."

-Sara King

aruna
12-17-2006, 05:10 PM
"So, which of your characters is you? Of course its autobiographical. All novels are."

glassquill
01-17-2007, 11:09 AM
If all novels are autobiographical, some writers must have some very, very strange lives. :tongue

'Forehead, this is Desk. Desk, this is Forehead. I do believe the two of you have met in the past.' :D

JIMBOS
01-17-2007, 11:19 AM
You want to be a writer? Wouldn't you rather be an actor instead?

JeanneTGC
01-17-2007, 10:02 PM
You want to be a writer? Wouldn't you rather be an actor instead?

My comeback to that type of line: "Actually, I'd rather be independently wealthy. What a pity I was born and married into the wrong families. Can you help my dream come true?"

arrowqueen
01-18-2007, 01:58 AM
I am Peeved. Those of a nervous disposition may wish to hide behind the couch.

My uncle had a minor stroke last weekend and is in hospital (Recovering nicely, ty.) so, as one of his sons lives in Ayr and the other in Edinburgh, I have been trotting up and down to visit. When I went in at three o' clock today, my cousin from Ayr was there.

'Hi, when did you get down?' I said.

'About twenty minutes ago.' All fine so far, but then... 'Some of us actually have to work, remember.' he went on. 'In fact some of us have done a day's work already.'

Excuse me? Pardon?

'Do you want a clatter round the lug?' I said. 'For your information, I've done my day's work as well - even if I am lucky enough to be able to do it, sitting on my backside. in the comfort of my own home.'

He smirked.

Cheeky bugger! I'm trailing up on a freezing cold day, clutching biscuits, magazines and the clean washing I did for his Dad and I get insulted for my pains?

So there you have it in a nutshell. Other jobs are REAL work. Writing is merely idle dilettantism.

Ok. I've finished. You can come out now.

Tiger
01-18-2007, 02:00 AM
I prescribe a clothyard shaft and a bared bum from twenty paces...

NicoleJLeBoeuf
01-18-2007, 10:52 AM
So, mainly what I get are the clueless but well-meaning sort of comments. I'm getting pretty good at turning them away with no hurt feelings, I hope:

"So where do you get your ideas?" I dunno. They come to me. You know.

"I have an idea you should write about--" Really? You should write it! No, really, that's why you had the idea and I didn't. I mean it, the universe is telling you something here.

"I wanted to write, once..." Really? You totally should do it! Right now! Grab a pen.

If I have time and sufficient goodwill, I try to turn it into a conversation about them so that I don't have to be the one fielding the questions. "You wanted to write once? Why didn't you? What did you want to write about?" But usually I'm not that saintly.

I've only had a couple incidents that truly fall under the "stupid, rude, and inconsiderate" category. Here's one:

Random Guy in Diner: "Whatcha doing? Homework?"
Me with Pen and Notebook: "Writing."
Guy: "That gonna be a novel?"
Me: "Yeah."
Guy: "Can I read it?"
Me: "Sure, yeah, when it's published."
Guy: "Hey, I'm a publisher!"
Me: {{ignore mode=on}}

The other is ongoing. Every once in awhile I'll be on the phone with my grandmother, and appropos of very little she'll get to talking about the kind of art and writing she feels ought not to exist in the world. Abstract art with unrealistic colors. Nudes. Disturbing subject matter. Plots involving sex, violence, unpleasantness. It isn't just she never wants to read/look at such things; she wants them not to exist. Her trademark saying, which deeply offends me on every level, is, "Sure, it's art--it 'art' not to be!"

Then she'll ask me when she can read my book. Which she has just unknowingly told me ought to be wiped from the face of the earth, due to the high volume of sex, violence, and unpleasantness in the plot.

If I can turn the conversation back to how she said she wants to write down her memories about her late husband, things get much more pleasant. Because then I can say, "You totally ought to write it. You should. No one can tell that story but you." Which is loads better than losing my temper at her for her arrogance in trying to pass off her personal taste as some sort of morally objective quality standard all art falling outside of which should be annihilated from the space-time continuum.

KiraOnWhite
01-18-2007, 11:18 AM
What my mom and dad always said..." Why can't I ever read what you're writing?"

Cause you'll say that I'm a freak, like the time you caught me giving Barbie Dolls names.

Oh and various people..." You? Writer? But you're not the best in English!"

Thanks for rubbing it in...

And of course... " Writing is fun? Ehhhh..." An excerpt from the minds of the imaginationless ones.

cinders23
01-18-2007, 06:09 PM
My Dad says only geniuses become successful authors. Where does that leave me? I already know he doesnít think Iím a genius (lol).

Cindy.

engmajor2005
01-18-2007, 06:27 PM
My Dad says only geniuses become successful authors. Where does that leave me? I already know he doesnít think Iím a genius (lol).

Cindy.

Obviously he's never heard of Danielle Steele and Dan Brown.

PeeDee
01-18-2007, 06:38 PM
I am Peeved. Those of a nervous disposition may wish to hide behind the couch.
My uncle had a minor stroke last weekend and is in hospital (Recovering nicely, ty.) so, as one of his sons lives in Ayr and the other in Edinburgh, I have been trotting up and down to visit. When I went in at three o' clock today, my cousin from Ayr was there.
a said.
'About twenty minutes ago.' All fine so far, but then... 'Some of us actually have to work, remember.' he went on. 'In fact some of us have done a day's work already.'
Excuse me? Pardon?
'Do you want a clatter round the lug?' I said. 'For your information, I've done my day's work as well - even if I am lucky enough to be able to do it, sitting on my backside. in the comfort of my own home.'
He smirked.
Cheeky bugger! I'm trailing up on a freezing cold day, clutching biscuits, magazines and the clean washing I did for his Dad and I get insulted for my pains?
So there you have it in a nutshell. Other jobs are REAL work. Writing is merely idle dilettantism.
Ok. I've finished. You can come out now.

Golly! What an idiot I am! If only I had a REAL job -- like shoveling turkey poo, or working in the tire factory down the street -- boy THEN wouldn't everyone be proud of me.

Yessir, I am a twit for sitting at home writing for money. What a nutter!

BRAGGING that you have a day job seems idiotic. It's like bragging to someone who's retired "You know, some of us WORKED today. You should try it, old guy."

Good job. You managed to fight and claw (and slip and slide down the slope) into the rat race. Well done.

People = Twits. In most fields, and in most conversations, even the bits not related to writing.

janetbellinger
01-18-2007, 06:46 PM
Don't you think your cousin may have been kidding? Or maybe he hates his job and would rather be writing. Maybe he has a smidgeon of the same genetic talent you have and wishes he could use it but is afraid to try.




I am Peeved. Those of a nervous disposition may wish to hide behind the couch.

My uncle had a minor stroke last weekend and is in hospital (Recovering nicely, ty.) so, as one of his sons lives in Ayr and the other in Edinburgh, I have been trotting up and down to visit. When I went in at three o' clock today, my cousin from Ayr was there.

'Hi, when did you get down?' I said.

'About twenty minutes ago.' All fine so far, but then... 'Some of us actually have to work, remember.' he went on. 'In fact some of us have done a day's work already.'

Excuse me? Pardon?

'Do you want a clatter round the lug?' I said. 'For your information, I've done my day's work as well - even if I am lucky enough to be able to do it, sitting on my backside. in the comfort of my own home.'

He smirked.

Cheeky bugger! I'm trailing up on a freezing cold day, clutching biscuits, magazines and the clean washing I did for his Dad and I get insulted for my pains?

So there you have it in a nutshell. Other jobs are REAL work. Writing is merely idle dilettantism.

Ok. I've finished. You can come out now.

BlueTexas
01-18-2007, 07:03 PM
"You're a writer? I'm going to write novels when I retire. It can't be that hard."

Makes me want them to come see my filing cabinet, full of false starts and abandoned outlines.

Kudra
01-18-2007, 10:14 PM
Oh man. I'd wish people would disappear from the planet, but then there'd be no one to read my work.

I've just moved to a new city and since I've never lived near a beach before, I like to go find a quiet spot and write near the sea. It's fun!

Anyway, I'm minding my own business, scribling my observations in my diary today, when this obnoxiously rude guy comes and plants his ass right next to me.

"Eh?" I say.
"You writing?"
"Uh... " I glance at my pen and diary and wonder what else he thinks I'm doing, but decide against being a smartass. "Yes," I politely say.
"What are you writing?"
"Umm... just observations."
"Can I read it?"
"Sorry... it's kind of private."
"Oh that's okay. You don't know me."
"Sorry, I'd rather not."

Then he tries to convince me. For five whole minutes. Tells me how I'll never see him again so it doesn't matter how personal my writing is, I should totally share it with him. Yeah okay, dude! Finally, I tell him that I'm getting late, and I get up and leave.

Freak!

NicoleJLeBoeuf
01-18-2007, 11:02 PM
So this one year we had a very well-known author, and we emailed him to ask him how much he'd be charging. The response was awesome:

"Well, originally I used to sign my books for free. But after I won my Hugo Award, I decided to charge double."Sounds like something Neil Gaiman would say...Or Peter S. Beagle, as the recent issue of THE RAVEN e-newsletter reminds me--he's got a Hugo now (at last!). Possibly not in time to have been responsible for this anecdote, though.

MightyScribbler
01-19-2007, 01:43 AM
"Am I in it?" Is one I get a lot.

I was once told I had to rewrite my novel by another "writer." I use the quotes because there is some suspicion to whether he writes, since he is known for drinking all night and sleeping all day. He told me I had to re-write my novel since all I had been doing was working a day job and writing the rest of the time. This, to him, was a dismal existence and a novel has to be about life, and since I wasn't living my life I certainly couldn't write about life.

Keep in mind that he never read a single word of the novel, I never told him a single detail about the plot, the characters, or anything really. In fact, I never even disclosed the title.

Meerkat
01-19-2007, 01:45 AM
"Oh good, you're not busy...."

electric.avenue
01-27-2007, 07:52 PM
"Oh good, you're not busy...."

Yes, sounds familiar. Anyone who works from home, or works for themselves, or is studying, gets this a lot.

Gabriel
01-27-2007, 10:37 PM
"Demons aren't real"
REALLY? WELL GOSH, I'D BETTER BURN THE WHOLE DAMN BOOK.
Comments like that make me jam pencils up people's noses,

NicoleJLeBoeuf
01-27-2007, 11:37 PM
Don't you think your cousin may have been kidding? Or maybe he hates his job and would rather be writing. Maybe he has a smidgeon of the same genetic talent you have and wishes he could use it but is afraid to try.Arrowqueen was the one who was there and saw him smirk. I'll go with her interpretation. Bleargh. Besides, even if the cousin was joking, that's a horrible thing to say! Especially to someone who drove all that way to visit the patient in the hospital!

But your instinct to give people the benefit of the doubt is admirable. I'm not nearly as patient as you are.

Of those people who give writers a hard time, more people than you might suppose meet the description you're hypothesizing about arrowqueen's cousin. They want to be writers but for some reason or another don't try. It's sad, but in their frustration they can do a lot of damage. They can be downright vicious, the way they cut into you for having the gall to do the thing they've convinced themselves they can't do. Usually whatever barrier they've bought into, they try to project it onto the nearest creative person: "Some of us have a real job" might mean "I sacrificed my creative dreams because I was convinced that it would be selfish and immature to follow them; how dare you do otherwise?"

Sometimes they go into teaching. Pity their students.

NicoleJLeBoeuf
01-27-2007, 11:41 PM
Oh, I thought of another one!

Person I once worked with: "You should try to get your book published by [enter big-name publisher here]."

Me: "Really? But I haven't even told you what my book is about. How do you know they're an appropriate market?"

Person: "Well, look how much money their last bestseller made!"

*Sigh* He meant well. He just doesn't understand how this publishing thing works. He doesn't even know that he doesn't understand. And between tasks at work isn't the time to give a lesson on The Realities Of The Publishing Industry.

Bubastes
01-28-2007, 12:01 AM
Usually whatever barrier they've bought into, they try to project it onto the nearest creative person: "Some of us have a real job" might mean "I sacrificed my creative dreams because I was convinced that it would be selfish and immature to follow them; how dare you do otherwise?"

So true. In fact, I say that it does mean this every single time. It says more about them that it does about you. Knowing this, I try to have compassion for them and keep on writing. I have enough trouble shushing my own critical voice that says "how dare you," so I try to ignore anyone else who says the same thing.

Sean D. Schaffer
01-28-2007, 02:39 AM
I am Peeved. Those of a nervous disposition may wish to hide behind the couch.

My uncle had a minor stroke last weekend and is in hospital (Recovering nicely, ty.) so, as one of his sons lives in Ayr and the other in Edinburgh, I have been trotting up and down to visit. When I went in at three o' clock today, my cousin from Ayr was there.

'Hi, when did you get down?' I said.

'About twenty minutes ago.' All fine so far, but then... 'Some of us actually have to work, remember.' he went on. 'In fact some of us have done a day's work already.'

Excuse me? Pardon?

'Do you want a clatter round the lug?' I said. 'For your information, I've done my day's work as well - even if I am lucky enough to be able to do it, sitting on my backside. in the comfort of my own home.'

He smirked.

Cheeky bugger! I'm trailing up on a freezing cold day, clutching biscuits, magazines and the clean washing I did for his Dad and I get insulted for my pains?

So there you have it in a nutshell. Other jobs are REAL work. Writing is merely idle dilettantism.

Ok. I've finished. You can come out now.


You're not alone in this, Arrowqueen. I have a family member who does this to me, as well. He likes to talk down to me because I've never been 'Publicated' (his word, not mine).

He then goes into some spiel about his making an honest living doing real work, while all I do all day is sit around and tell stories.

Oh, well. Whatever floats his boat, so far as my relative is concerned.


But what I'm trying to say is, I know what you're saying. It's difficult to handle having people constantly berating you because you're doing something they don't. I don't think it's that they don't approve of writers in general; rather, I think it's that they don't approve of someone they know being a writer. That some ordinary individual like a member of their family could ever be anything more than a menial laborer, is repugnant to some people.

Gabriel
01-28-2007, 03:13 AM
That some ordinary individual like a member of their family could ever be anything more than a menial laborer, is repugnant to some people.
I know the feeling. My family are all lay abouts, warehouse workers or criminals (Literally). We're still wondering where my intelligence came from though my dad has some dark theories concerning the milk man. :D

Pagey's_Girl
01-28-2007, 04:32 AM
Yes, sounds familiar. Anyone who works from home, or works for themselves, or is studying, gets this a lot.

So do secretaries - somehow, being on the phone, having three people IM-ing you asking for slots on people's calendars and trying to set up a meeting all at one isn't work...

Dixie
01-29-2007, 06:29 AM
In the area where I live, the vast majority of the workforce is blue collar laborers. My mom is one. Education up to 20 years ago wasn't highly valued. Mostly because if it was physical manual labor, it wasnt work. Sitting at a desk all day isn't a 'real job' to many people. When I interned for the local newspaper I got it alot from my parents that it simply wasn't a 'real job'. That hurt quite alot.

Judg
01-29-2007, 10:30 PM
Breaking out of the mold almost always involves some pain and rejection. That's just the way it goes. Writers are far from being the only people who experience this. The family of a close friend of mine was humiliated for years because he had become a pastor. They wanted rich or respectable and in their eyes this was neither. Consciously rejecting materialism and conformity was shameful to them. Their relief when he became a professor was almost palpable. Now they could finally brag to their friends.

I imagine that children of white-collar workers who elect to go into the trades probably will often get similar reactions, although nowadays they can probably laugh all the way to the bank, at least.

But, you break the paradigm, you pay the price. And it hurts. But it's often worth it.

thethinker42
01-30-2007, 02:53 AM
I was sitting at a bar the other night waiting for my friends to show up. As always, I use that as BIC time. I was jotting some notes, and the drunk next to me starts talking to me in some random stream-of-consciousness way after asking if I was writing a song. I said it was a novel, and off he went.

After he left (MERCIFULLY), the other guys at the bar started heckling me. It was the whole "Oh, you could write a book about ME!" thing, times about 10. They were basically saying I could write a book about the bar, and regaling me with all the random weird things they had said/done/seen etc in that bar.

Forehead...meet bar.

This is why I usually don't hang out in bars. I hate being around drunk people. But my friends were late, the fries were good, and I DID resolve an issue that's been bugging me with a conflict in the next chapter of my book...but OMG, it was "non-writer stupidity" + alcohol and IN STEREO. Yikes.

Namatu
01-30-2007, 03:00 AM
But with good fries.

Thump
01-30-2007, 04:52 AM
Heheheh :) My parents are really quite supportive so long as I don't decide to make writing my full time job (which really, I couldn't do no matter how much I would love to). They don't understand why I write fiction (and of the SF/F genres at that) when I could be writing about all the travelling we've done.

Well, erm, 'cause our life is just not that interesting?

The only person I let read my stories is my youngest sister because 1) she's not a very discerning reader :P and likes most of what I write (well, it keeps my ego satisfied), 2) she promptly forgets all about it and 3) no one else would think much of it seeing as how it's not "Literature" (never mind there are plenty of SF/F novels that are considered Literature and that no, I'm not making it up seeing as how I'm a f****** English major and study the stuff and oughta know which books are considered lit., e.g. "Frankenstein", "1984")

The stupidest thing I've been told is from my younger sister (the one in the middle - I'm eldest): "You're a terrible writer. No one on the internet knows who you are while I am famous in yaoi Harry Potter communities." - Yeah...erm...I write original stuff and it takes a lot more to write in hope of publication than it does to write fanfiction >.< Both dumb AND mean-spirited.

Also a plethora of ye ol' "Can I be in your book", "Oh...so you write about spaceships and martians..." (ARGH!), "You write science-fiction? But you're a woman" (*would bang head on desk but has no desk*) or the other version of this one "Women can't write SF, what do they know about machines? You should write chick lit/romance/literary fiction, you'll do better." I know enough about machines to know that slamming my laptop on their heads would leave me without a computer but would be highly satisfying.