Talking to Non-writers

I’m back! For those of you that aren’t familiar with this blog, it’s been some time since my last post. My absence can be explained by several factors. You only have to go back and read my previous post to learn that I have a baby in the house. Those late-night writing sessions disappeared for a while in favor of a bottle and a baby. I have also been working on a novel, which I finished the second draft of while on vacation last week (yes, I write on vacation). I also started a new job doing pick and pack in a warehouse. It’s a good gig but leaves me tired at the end of the day and with little time for writing. The novel is entering the editing phase, the baby is starting to sleep through the night, and the job has moved to part-time until business picks up in the autumn. That’s a long way of saying I finally have a small amount of free time to do things like this. Enough fluff, let’s get down to the business we love.

As writers, we all understand why it is we do this thing called writing. We don’t have to ask. We know not to ask another writer where they get their ideas or what they’re working on at the moment. We know that we do it because we must, that we don’t know where our ideas come from, or that we’d rather not discuss a work in progress. Non-writers, however, aren’t privy to this knowledge. They ask these questions or comment absurdly on the writing world, our world. What are these questions and comments? What do you want to say? How should you? Let’s discuss.

You’re still writing?

What you want to say: “No, I suddenly lost all my passion and resigned myself to a life without my creative outlet. I’m dead inside, thanks for asking.”

What you should say: Nothing, just smile and nod. Explaining passion to someone who has the audacity to ask such a question is a waste of time.

I’m thinking about writing a book (or other various forms).

What you want to say: “Don’t. It’s mentally draining, time consuming, and impossible for more than a select few to earn a living at. You want a hobby? Take up knitting.”

What you should say: “Great! The creative process is the best outlet I have. I’d love to give you some advice when you start.”

What are you working on now?

What you want to say: (Insert five-minute monologue about the main character and story arc here)

What you should say: (Give them your one sentence hook instead)

Where do you get your ideas?

What you want to say: “From a belligerent muse that sits in the corner drinking cheap whiskey and smoking cigarettes. As long as I keep both on hand, he’ll keep the stories coming.”

What you should say: “Well, every writer has their own process…” You know what? Give them the belligerent muse line.

Oh, I’ll have to watch my grammar around you!

What you want to say: “If I went around checking everyone’s grammar, I’d have to quit my day-job.”

What you should say: “That’s okay, listening to you speak naturally will help me with realistic dialogue.”

When is the book coming out?

(This is only annoying to those of us that don’t have a publishing deal or aren’t ready to self-publish.)

What you want to say: “As soon as I finish writing it, spend six months searching for an agent, wait another six months to find a publisher, then get to fix the novel that I thought I was done writing.”

What you should say: “In time.”

Do you know any famous writers?

What you want to say: “Obviously not or I’d have a literary agent.”

What you should say: “No. Why? Do you?”

I don’t read much.

What you want to say: “It shows.”

What you should say: “Really? You should try (insert name of author you genuinely believe they would enjoy).”

I hope you don’t write about me!

What you want to say: “I try to have interesting characters.

What you should say: *wink* “What makes you think I haven’t already?”

Obviously, these are in jest. Remember not to use any of these comments on your loved ones. They are patient and supportive while we are toiling away at that next masterpiece, return the favor. Until next time, remember to follow your dreams, even if they terrify you.

Stephen Roth


Published by stephenmroth

Stephen Roth is a horror writer focused on making his dreams a reality.

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