If you’re a writer or you know a writer or you’ve accidentally come across a writer in the wild, then you know that writing makes people a little crazy. First there are the days (Months! Years!) of struggling to learn how to write (and then write MOAR BETTER). Then there is feedback, both good and bad, book deals, editors that leave, bad reviews, and a whole lot more crazymaking than any other gig. After all, no one asks a lumberjack if maybe he could have cut down a tree a little straighter or with a little more conviction. Probably because he has a chainsaw.
But beyond all of the maddening sideshow antics and the struggle for perfection that for some reason we authors LOVE, there are the questions from those who maybe don’t understand the writing game the way some of us do. So here, for your own personal survival, are the Top Three Questions You Should Never Ask a Writer. After all, you wouldn’t pull a lion’s tail, would you? (Of course you wouldn’t. You seem like a reasonable person).
1. Are you working on anything right now ?
You should just always assume that the answer to this is “yes”. If it’s “no” that means we are suffering from a dreaded bout of any of the following: Writer’s Block or Writer’s Doubt or Uncooperative Characters or Why-in-the-seven-HELLS-Isn’t-This-Plot-Working-???-Syndrome. When the answer is “no” we are cranky and out of sorts. And when we are cranky, things happen. BAD THINGS. Things your mother should have warned you about.
Always assume that the writing is going fine, brilliant even. Otherwise, be prepared for a long, dreary tale of woe concerning weak plot structures, soggy midpoints, and low word counts. You might even be subjected to a read aloud of a first draft. You are warned.
2. Will I like your book?
Like most doting mothers and fathers, we are pretty much certain you will fall in LUUUURRRRRRRRVE with our little darlings. Why? BECAUSE WE LOVE THEM SO VERY MUCH!!! But the reality is tastes are personal, and this extends to books. I love okra. I like it fried, pickled, boiled, roasted, etc. I also love plaid pants. But I happen to know from personal experience that a good percentage of the population hates okra, and there are routine fashion commentaries on the hideousness of plaid pants. So one taste doesn’t fit all, and this applies to books.* Will you like our books? Eh, maybe. But the book’s author is probably not the person to ask.
3. Why do you write for children? Are you going to one day write a real book for adults?
This doesn’t even dignify an answer. But luckily, the brilliant Madeline L’Engle put it best:
“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
And there you go! Now you will be able to talk to a writer without worrying that you might end up a character in a future book…maybe.
*Not my book. It is brilliant, and you are going to love it.