Hi again! Lately, I’ve been seeing those lists of things that every writer supposedly hates to hear and decided to make my own. It’s relatively short compared to the ten, fifteen, even thirty item lists I’ve noticed floating around. This is mainly because 1) I don’t really pay much attention when I start to get annoyed by a conversation, and 2) people don’t generally ask me if I have a real job when told I’m a writer (I’m guessing that has something to do with the whole cripple thing, which I’m okay with), so I run into a lot less annoying people than the average writer. So, here’s my very short list divided up into who shouldn’t be saying it.
1. Publishers to writers (or any creative artists really) – “We won’t pay you, but you’ll definitely earn some exposure by being published here.”
If I wanted to work for exposure, I’d post my work on my blog. I suppose that’s my “popular fiction” training talking. We’re taught to start at the top (pro-paying publications) and work our way down (semi-pro, token, and as a last resort, exposure) until we receive an acceptance or run out of places to submit to, which makes sense to me. Why not aim high? The worst that can happen is a rejection. I admit that I’ve submitted to non-paying things before, but they were special circumstances. Even if I kind of understand it, I don’t really see the draw of “exposure.” And I don’t know why we (creative artists) keep accepting it as if it’s a form of payment.
2. Non-writers to writers – “You should write my life story! *proceeds in telling life story*”
Don’t get me wrong, there is probably some CNF writer somewhere who would be totally down for something like that, but I’m not that person. Unless your life involves dragons or fairies or (literal, not figurative) demons, the chances of me writing about it are pretty slim. So, maybe this one isn’t exactly a “don’t say it to any writer” thing as much as it is a “know your audience” type thing. Ask us about the type of stuff we write, then if you’re actually interested in having your story told and that writer seems interested in telling it, go for it! But, if it’s not something you’re truly interested in doing and/or the writer doesn’t write that type of stuff, it’s probably safer to not bring it up.
3. Writer to writer – “You’re still working on that piece?”
Yes, yes I am still working on that piece. The question itself isn’t all that bad. I don’t get bothered when non-writers ask it, because most people don’t understand what all goes into something like a novel or poem or short story. But when a writer asks it, it comes across as rude. I’m sorry I’m not as fast a writer as you. I’m sorry I hold my work to higher standards. Go worry about your own work and leave me to my process.
Those are my three big writerly pet peeves. There are others, of course, but the annoyance levels all really depend on who says what when. What are some questions or statements that grind on your writerly nerves?