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I’m Sorry. What Was The Question?

Well it’s another day and another dollar here in the Windy City. The weather has been lovely, though to me anything below 120 in July is amazing. Enough talk about the weather. I have come across an annoyance in my life that I never had when I kept my writing to myself. Now that I have graduated college with a degree in English Literature I often get the question, so are you going to be a teacher? The answer is obviously no to me as I don’t have teacher certification and that is an entirely different degree, still I get it, easy mistake.

I then explain to the well wishers that I plan on making a living writing books. The fun really begins then. Have you written the book? Have you heard of self publishing? Is it like Twilight? Is it like 50 Shades of Grey? Why don’t you write the next Harry Potter? Now as someone who has researched this business and is doing it, I understand that these questions are completely nuts. I can’t express how nuts I think they are because the people asking are just trying to be helpful.

Now let’s go over them one by one:

 Have you written the book?

 I am currently on the third rewrite of the book. Sadly this sucker isn’t like a five page research essay that I can bust out in a few hours. Readers seem to enjoy characters shooting the shit, but rather dislike bullshit used to make a word count. 

Have you heard of self publishing?

No I’ve been living under a rock the past two years. Yes, I’ve heard of it. It’s not the path I would like to take at this time but I also recognize the advantages to it. Our very own Snarky Dwarve has had some great success as an indie author and I’m sure she would be happy to tell you all the benefits. Still not my choice at this time. I leave that door open as situations and mindsets do change, and mine is just as likely to change as anybody’s.

Is it like Twilight?

I am not currently writing a young adult novel. Twilight does have some of the qualities that I would classify as Urban Fantasy, my genre, being that it is fantastical creatures set in a modern setting. At the same time I will admit to not particularly enjoying the books myself. I have read all of them but they’re not my bag. Beyond that, if you write something with the goal to hit a trend, that trend will likely be over by the time you get your manuscript ready. I write Urban Fantasy so whereas I recognize that it too is hot at the moment, it’s what I love to read and write. It’s not forced, it’s what I have always desired to write.

Is it like 50 Shades of Grey?

No, just no.

Why don’t you write the next Harry Potter?

I wish. Not even from a financial stand point, simply as a fan I wish that had come to me.  Again though, write what you love and what comes to you rather than looking only to the trends. Perhaps one day I will have an idea for a great middle grade novel but it’s not at the moment and whereas I wouldn’t turn the money down I’m not greedy. No author is.

To expand on my last statement: yes, most authors dream of the day they hit the New York Times Bestseller list. The fact is though that even if they do, it doesn’t mean they’re going to be millionaires. Most writers would be happy eking out a comfortable living. Hell, I’m a single girl with no dependents, I’d be happy to be eking out minimum wage from my writing. I like Ramen Noodles and Scott toilet paper as much as the next person.

In conclusion, despite these silly questions that we all have to deal with. The interest is there. People who don’t write are fascinated by this idyllic image of the “writer’s life.” All of these questions may seem annoying to the writer but they open the door for honest discussions about the creative process and for educating people about the publishing industry.  People are curious, they want to know. So my question is: what are some of the strange things you’ve been asked when you’ve confessed to being a writer? I know my list is short. Hell I could go on all day but my dad is in town and I have to go to the Zoo tomorrow, which is fine as zoos are bitchin’.

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  1. Dan Rathers

     /  July 28, 2013

    You should be drinking whisky in a smoky room eating cold French fries… right?

    • That’s funny. I think people all expect female writers to be like Meryl Streep in She Devil and male writers to be functioning alcoholics.

  2. The day I signed my first publishing contract. “So you’re, like, rich now, right?”
    Another common one, not a question, but slightly annoying, “One day I’m going to have the time and then I’ll write a book.”
    “Where do you get your ideas?”
    And the best one, “Oh, you write vampires? Like Twilight?”
    LOL. Love the topic 🙂

  3. My favorite, “So did you base one of your characters on me?”
    *rolls eyes–literally–right across the floor* Why yes, yes I did, because I’m a glutton for punishment!


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