Five Things NOT to Say to a Writer

All these statements are ones I’ve heard. Once was enough.

1. “Oh, you are a writer! Would I have read anything you wrote?” I have no idea where to start with that answer. How would I know what you read? Am I supposed to ask you that? Or just duck my head and say, “Probably not. I’m not famous.”

images2. “Did you get a huge advance like [big-name celebrity]?” I always want to say, “Well, those of us who write our own books get a much bigger advance.” But I do not.

3.” You didn’t self-publish? You know, if you did, you can control your marketing plan.” I can do all the marketing I want with my publisher, too.

4. “Why would anyone not want to self-publish?” Because I’m not a distributor and my publisher gets my book into stores I didn’t know about.  Better than i could do.

5. “Oh, you write. Do you know E.L. James?” No, I do not know the author of 50 Shades of Gray. Or Janet Evanovich or Nora Roberts or even writers I’d like to meet like Anne Lamott, Anne Tyler, or Brené Brown. This brings back memories of when I went overseas and people would ask me if I knew their second cousin in Sheboygan. And were disappointed if I didn’t.

Quinn McDonald is a writer. She hopes you might give Raw Art Journaling as a gift this holiday season.

22 thoughts on “Five Things NOT to Say to a Writer

  1. Pingback: Five Things Never to Say to a Diabetic | QuinnCreative

  2. The ones I really hate are “How’s your (book, dissertation, article, essay) going? When do you think you’ll be finished?”

  3. Aloha e Quinn! If you ever need someone to offer you words of support, I’m here for you. That’s a promise. (And I promise not to say anything you’d mentioned in the post above.)

  4. As an educator with a specialist position I get asked almost predictable questions about behaviour, relationships and learning difficulties. I’m supposed to solve everything for their child, niece, neighbour, society as a whole, there and then. If only life were that easy.
    As for knowing someone’s second cousin – it made me laugh! Get two New Zealanders together overseas and the first thing we seem to do is work out who we might know in common!

  5. There’s also, “What do you write?”, asked with the expectation that you are writing exciting fiction. You can see the blankness on their faces when you confess to writing some sort of nonfiction.
    Fn. Some people, like my brother, actually do know their cousin from Sheboygan! You know what I’m saying!

  6. This is right on target! Another thing to add to it is to not keep asking if the person has written and updated their blog. If the person asking really cares enough they would go to the blog and look for themselves. I think this is a form of passive aggressive behaviour from one person who does this to me repeatedly. I will update when I am feeling better (I’ve been ill for a few months). Between bouts of the flu, colds and continuous rounds of pink eye, my blog has suffered by my lack of atttention. I’m hoping that I’ve got a grip on my health and will be back to blogging shortly.

  7. But did the same person who asked you why not self-publish *also* ask you how big the advance was? 🙂

    By the way, say hi to Salman Rushdie for me next time you’re over at his place for lunch.

    I told you my story about accidental self publishing, didn’t I? I try almost every online service just to see how they work, and one of them will automatically reformat your ebook into each of the formats AND post it to all the online ebook stores. So I scraped some content from my own blog, spent about 30 seconds making a cover picture (some circles) and submitted it to see how well their software did. Not particularly well, in fact. I didn’t think much more about it, but weeks or months later thought to check that site again — and my account contained over $50 because people had bought my book (I’d opted for the default price of 99 cents, I think).

  8. Five things to say to a writer;

    • what’s in your heart that needs to flow to the page?

    • what moved you today?

    • what did you notice today?

    • what did you see and hear behind the words people spoke to you?

    • what new awareness do you have about your interior life?

    These are questions I would like to be asked.

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