What NOT to Say to the Writer in Your Life

by Lisa Rosen on April 21, 2011

I’m working on a novel.  Actually, I’ve finished a novel, and am now re-writing it as per the advice from Peggy Payne that I mentioned here.  When I’ve finished this round, I’ll go back to working on my second novel.

I started the first one a long time ago.  For the record, I’ve been doing lots of other things in the interim–raising children, becoming an athlete, etc.  But yes, this book has been hanging around in my life for a long time.

Several weeks ago I was coming in from a run, and stopped to say hi to my next-door neighbor, who was out in the yard.  After about thirty seconds of chit-chat, he wanted to know how long I’d been working on “that book.”

I hedged.  I obfuscated.  I beat around the bush.  I did everything I could not to answer him directly.  He persisted.  Every time I tried to re-direct the conversation, he’d say, “But how long did it take?”

Finally I gave up trying to be vague, and mumbled something that might’ve sounded like “seven years,” and hightailed it for home.  So much for my runner’s high.

So for those of you who know someone who is working earnestly at the writing life, here are some things that just might send that writer into a tailspin of despair.

1–So, did you get that novel published yet? (Um, if I had, you would definitely have heard.  I’ll be broadcasting it from the rooftop, believe me.)

2–I think I’ve got a novel or two in me; I’m going to start writing them as soon as the kids are grown/I retire/I finish school/I can find the time.  (Sure.  Let me know when you’ve got a couple hundred pages.)

3–I have a friend who self-published; you should do that.  (Thank you for the advice, but since that’s a new, unproven business model about which you know absolutely nothing, I’m going to have to ignore you.)

4–So when can I read it? (After you sign the credit card slip–I’m not planning to give it away for free.)

5–So what’s it about? (I find this a particularly challenging question; I know I need to be able to summarize my work, for sales purposes, but honestly, it makes me self-conscious to be trying to explain in the middle of the grocery store.)

6–What an interesting hobby.  (That’s just demoralizing.  I take my writing very seriously.)

I’m sure there are a million more.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Amelia April 25, 2011 at 8:12 am

These are very good tips….especially since I want to remain your friend!
I particularly like #1. It reminds of the times when I’ve competed, no participated in, an Ironman and people ask, ‘Did you win?’


Lisa Rosen April 26, 2011 at 2:35 pm

To quote Delaney–I know, right??


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