When I was a creative writing major in college, I got my first taste of the bafflingly obnoxious way that some people respond to a pronouncement of writerly ambitions:
“Don’t worry,” one bro a friend and I met an L.A. bar told me, “I had a bullshit major in college too. I turned out fine.”
Reader, I assure you, he did not turn out fine.
This was an egregious example but many well-meaning (ish) people seemed to fret about what I would do with such a fanciful degree. Did I want to teach? No…I wanted to write. And hey! What do you know, a decade after graduation, I use my degree every day of my life. So there.
One fantasizes that getting a book deal will stem the tide of this mystifying awkwardness. At very least, if one becomes famous for it, people will be respectful of the profession, right? Oh, sadly not, as last week’s hilarious and cringe-inducing hashtag #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter on Twitter proved.
As a public service message to all, here are ten things you should keep in mind when talking to writers:
1. We don’t like to work for free any more than you do:
2. We don’t need to hear your book idea…
3. And we definitely don’t want to write it for you:
4. This IS our job. We get paid for it (see above):
5. Buy the book cheapskate. This is how we make a living (see above):
6. Wait, you do know how to read right?
7. That’s so funny, because we have totally dabbled in brain surgery!
8. Why didn’t WE think of that?
9. If you can’t say something nice…
10. Let us go fetch you a gold star, BRB: