Peggy Bechko: Don’t Say That to Writers

talking-hedsby Peggy Bechko

Don’t Say This Stuff To Writers ~Seriously

It truly is amazing the things said to writers over and over again. I mean folks with jobs not in any way associated with writing usually don’t have strange questions and remarks directed their way. Or do they? I guess you have to tell me if I’m wrong.

So I’m going to rant and rave about the interestingly strange things I’ve had said to me over the years; questions asked. Things I’ve had to mostly just smile and ignore or politely respond to. See if you can relate.

First there’s the “where do you get your ideas” question. It’s kind of a “Duoh” question with several answers, depending on my mood. One is the I’m feeling good answer: Ideas are all around us, in the news, in the people we meet, in family history (and I do mean that). The other is the I’m irritated and tired response (mostly going through my head, not out loud): oh for god’s sakes, that’s a question, really? If you don’t know where ideas come from and you’re and adult I just don’t know what to say.

Here’s one comment. “Oh, writing is so easy. You’re so lucky to have such an easy job. It’s not like you’re a doctor or something.” Oh yea? Try it some time. Okay, a doctor doesn’t want to kill his or her patients. A writer has to kill his or her darlings on a regular basis. Same thing, right? Right? Well, okay, not so much, but every job, every pursuit has its good and bad side. Writing can be damn hard. So can being a doctor. But there’s that spectacularly great productive and positive day… the easy one.

Another one I love. “Will you make me a character in your next book?” No, not unless you pay me a lot of money. What kind of question is that? Are you thinking I’ll just use your name or do you expect I’ll develop your entire personality into a character (and by the way I don’t know you so how am I to do that…if I was so inclined…which I’m not).

And the much repeated “I’ve always wanted to write a book.” Gee, really? OMG! Okay, I’m sorry I’m a bit sarcastic, but if you always wanted to write a book why haven’t you? What excuse do you roll out? I mean there are many writers out there every day who hold down full time jobs, juggle family, chores, social events and still manage to write books, articles, short stories, whatever. So, really, why haven’t you? Answer, you don’t really want to write it, you want to have written it. Understandable. I’m none too fond of actually ‘writing’ either, but to get from point “A” (wanting to write) to point “B” (having written) you actually have to write. So if you want to write, then do it. After you have, let me know and I’ll applaud you. (Really, no sarcasm intended.)

Here’s a fabulous question. “Do you make any money doing that?” That depends on what I’m writing, who I’m writing for, what my goal is, how many people actually buy the book, if a producer options a script. If a writer is freelance, there are a whole lot of factors involved and by the way, IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS! Do you ask your doctor if there’s any money in that? But, for the record, a freelance writer, working from an office at home or elsewhere doesn’t live off air, so what do you think?

And I’ll end with this one regarding a manuscript in progress, “can I read your new manuscript?” What? How many writers out there hand out copies of draft work in progress? Not to offend the readers out there, but really, do you want to read a work that’s too wordy, sort of half-ass, unedited, filled with spelling and grammar errors and over written? I don’t know about other writers, but that’s sort of what my first draft looks like. No, you can’t read the manuscript until it is fit to be read. And that’ll probably be after it’s published and you can buy a copy. Your doctor won’t removed your appendix for nothing either.

Thank you. Now I’ll hug my rescue dog who’s pawing at me for attention and then get back to work.