A similar topic trended on Twitter recently, and I thought I’d post the two I tweeted and bring it up to five. There are many, many more I’m sure.

1. When are you going to get that published? — There’s a giant verbal question mark clothed in an exclamation point stabbing the end of this one, so it comes across as more accusation than the product of a mildly inquiring mind. As if a snap of fingers or Samanthalike wiggle of nose makes publishers fall all over themselves to snap up your manuscript. Granted, the onset of epublishing has shifted the paradigm in a number of ways, but for many writers it hasn’t moved to the top of their wish list. The only answer that won’t lead to a round of defensive attack and clueless counterattack involves a polite smile and the words “I’m working on it.” My tweet of this one garnered several RTs, so it must have hit a fellow solar plexus…or five.

2. I quote: Hon, maybe I can help you out. Let me give you the name of a publisher I know. HELD BREATH. GASP OF DELIGHTED ANTICIPATION.OTHER SHOE DROPS. He sells his books in truck stops! — I know this sounds like I made it up in an attempt to add a bit of humor to a topic depressing to most serious writers, but I swear on my new laptop’s precious 750 gig harddrive that it really happened to me. This was a very sweet, entirely serious acquaintance…also entirely convinced they dangled the keys to my thrilling future from eager fingertips. Mine for the taking. Surprisingly, it’s very difficult to turn down such a sincere offer without crushing the crusher. But I managed it just fine. I hope. No RTs on this one, because (I sincerely hope) I stand as the lone recipient. Ever.

3. Did you try A? B? C?– This one is courtesy of the unconsciously arrogant know-it-all. Extremely helpful fellow. So certain his insights will make all the difference, even as you roll your mental eyes, thinking of the mountain of books you’ve practically memorized in your quest for the three fabled Ps–Professionalism, Proofread, Published. Rumor has it they reside atop a Himalayalike mountain called Persistence. If you get through the conversation without slamming a door in Mr. Know-It-All’s face or damaging his eardrums when you hang up on him rather forcibly, you get to advance to Mt. Himalayalike’s foothills without purchasing another book that contains information that will undoubtedly conflict with all the others.

4. (On being told said writer has had a story prominently published.) Disconcerting silence followed by this oh-so-complimentary phrase uttered in tones of shock and awe: Wow! You’ve got to be intelligent to do that. — I’m not sure if that says more about their own intelligence, or their my-how-terribly-flattering opinion of mine.

5. This one is in the screenwriting shade of no nos: A screenplay? LONG, MENTAL COGS TURNING SILENCE. You mean…like…a MOVIE??? — Why, no. I mean like shadow puppets frolicking across a screen door, you dunderhead! That last bit is merely wishful repartee. In reality it’s more an eneloquent “Uh huh.” BEAT “I write poems too.” That one will finish putting them into a conveniently mute near comatose state of confused disbelief, leaving me to quietly fade out of their presence.

Yes, they have all been uttered at me. Yes, I think it’s funny when I don’t think it’s depressing. And, yes indeed, people can be extremely thoughtless and strange. Fortunately, they are more often thoughtful, kind, and encouraging.

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