How’s the book coming along?

Very nifty post over this way about irritating/silly questions writers are asked, and how to deal with them.

Some of the silly/bothersome questions include:

“What do you do?”
“What do you write?” (Sometimes followed by: “You write that?”)
“Is there any money in that?”
“Where have you been published?” (Often followed by, “Where?”)
“How’s the book coming?” (Alt: “When will you be done with that thing?”)
“Why don’t you just sit down over a weekend and just finish it?” Or, “Why don’t you just go on [popular TV show]?” (Or other “useful” advice.)
“When are you going to get a real job?” And,
“Did you hear about XYZ? She just sold her novel for a million dollars!”

To that I’d add any questions that demand specifics relating to money, the delightful “when are you going to write a real book?” once you mention you write for young people, and the all-time favourite “Would I have heard of anything you’ve written?” How on earth should anyone know what you’ve heard of, oh question-asker-person?

There’s some good advice about how to respond to these kinds of questions – it’s worth checking out.

I think most of these questions come from a place of ‘not really getting it’ – for example, people who ask how long it takes to write a book, thinking it’s a matter of sitting down and writing one draft and that’s it, off it goes to the editor. There are the questions about all the stuff that’s out of an author’s control, things for publishers and agents and bookshops and external forces to determine. Writing seems easy enough. We use words every day. But, y’know. We also move our bodies every day, but most of us aren’t professional dancers or athletes. Having read an article or interview or two doesn’t make us experts on any field. (Alas. It’d make research so much easier!)

About clairehennessy

Writer (mostly YA fiction), creative writing teacher, tea drinker, book junkie. View all posts by clairehennessy

10 responses to “How’s the book coming along?

  • Laura

    “So it that all you do?” is another one. Although most people are generally nice… The best was one of my exes describing me as ‘unemployed’ to an estate agent. Nothing wrong with being unemployed, but I had just been offered a book deal, and had spent every day of the last year writing. It’s a real job people!

    • clairehennessy

      That is SO obnoxious! Ugh. (Add to the reasons why some people SHOULD be exes, I guess…) Much as I get irritated by people going “I’m a writer” when what they really mean is “I want to be a writer, but mostly I’m just going to talk about it”, having someone be so totally dismissive of writerliness is just… ugh. So wrong.

  • Eliza Green

    Here’s mine. When you say something- anything- and a friend says ‘you should put that in your book,’ as if all stories are created that way…

  • Emerald

    “Would I have heard of anything you’ve written?”

    I think it’s best to answer that with another question:
    “I don’t know, how good is your taste in literature?”

  • ismiseme

    My favourite is: “Why haven’t you been published yet?” Often followed by: “But [insert author they don’t like] is published so it can’t be that hard.”

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