Sunday, September 21, 2008

Top Ten List - Things People Ask When They Find Out I'm a Writer

Even though I have yet to snag an agent or find a publisher for either of my completed novels, there is a fairly predictable list of questions I get when people discover I'm a writer, or after they read any of my material. Fortunately, most haven't told me they regret the time they've spent reading my stuff, at least not to my face.

So, without further ado, and since I'm not really sure what "ado" is in the first place, here is my Top Ten List of Things People Want to Know When They Discover I'm a Writer:

10) "Do you think I could write a book?"

My answer - How the hell do I know? I'll tell you this, though. Everyone has a story inside them which would be fascinating reading. The hard part is developing the discipline to get it down on paper, but if I can do it, so can you.

9) "How do you spell [Fill in the blank with some obscure word no one has ever heard of]?"

Everyone figures since you spend so much time writing you must be some kind of spelling wizard. In my case, that happens to be true; I'm a great speller, even though I did get eliminated from the fifth grade spelling bee when I choked on the word "you." Don't ask. That was a dark time in my life.

8) "What's your favorite book ever?"

It's actually a tie between The Fixer and Paskagankee, two books you may never have heard of. Actually, unless you know me, I guarantee you have never heard of them. They are my two completed manuscripts - my two babies, so to speak, which have yet to be seen by anyone outside of a very small circle of friends and family. Eventually they will be, though.

7) "Where do you get such twisted ideas?"

Anyone who has read any of my work, whether my two completed novels or any of my short stories, seems shocked to discover how dark my mind really is. The really shocking part is that the stuff I have written so far is only what I've been comfortable putting out for public consumption; the truly strange stuff is still knocking around inside my head trying to get out.

6) "Did you get an agent yet?"

Sometimes the question is phrased as, "When are your books coming out?" So far, the only answer I can give to either question is that your guess is as good as mine. I'm one hundred percent convinced that it's going to happen, but it's definitely not happening tomorrow or next week or even next month.

5) "Will you still talk to me when you get famous?"

Of course not. What's the point of being famous if you can't blow off all the people who hung out with you when you were just a regular guy? I'm kidding, by the way.

4) "Do you know [Fill in the blank with the name of the person's favorite author]?"

Everyone assumes you are on a first-name basis with guys like Stephen King or Lee Child or Dean Koontz when they find out you are writing a book. An awesome thought, but so far none of them has returned any of my calls.

3) "How do you deal with rejection?"

Great question. I just pretend it's happening to someone else. Actually, many of the rejection letters I have received from agents have been quite complimentary and although none of them have yet offered me representation, they haven't actually told me to unplug my keyboard and throw it away, either. At this point, I consider that a major accomplishment. I remain convinced that the next one I hear from will be the one who is salivating at the prospect of representing me as the next great debut novelist. I believe that's called self-deception, but whatever floats your boat, right?

2) "Can you use my name for one of your characters?"

This one mostly comes from my middle child. My seventeen year old daughter is bound and determined to be a star in one of my novels, and I've told her a thousand times that I'm not killing off my own child, but when a good part comes along for a young woman who is perfect and loves her dad, she's in.

1) "Can't you write about stuff that's not quite so dark?"

This question mostly comes from my wife, who can't be pleased to know that so much of my creative juices are focused on murder and chaos and mayhem. The answer, of course, is "no;" I can't help how my mind works. On the other hand, one of my favorite short stories is called "Uncle Brick and Jimmy Kills," and is a little more light-hearted than my typical fare, although it involves murder and the mob. I wrote this one specifically because she seemed so concerned about the dark tint to most of my stories. So far, no one has seen fit to publish it but I'm going to keep flogging it around until someone does - it's really good.

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