by Laura Blackhurst
Sometimes, just sometimes, it can be a little frustrating, this whole writing malarkey. And quite frequently, you might find yourself (however unreasonably) not wanting to talk about it. At all. Especially just after the times where you’ve erupted into a ball of angry frustration tears at the latest bout of writer’s block, and swear you’re never going to write another decent sentence in your lifetime.
It’s at delicate times like these that you know your nearest and dearest are going to either ask all the wrong questions, inadvertedly insult you, annoy you, or all three. Little known to them, you’ve been considering collecting everything you’ve ever written and holding a burning ceremony and possibly deleting everything from your hard drive too, stabbing the delete button maniacally (you don’t tell anyone you have everything secretly backed-up though). Welcome to the qualms and complaints of the writing world. Here’s just a quick heads up of which things it might be best NOT to say at these scary times…
“What’s your little book about?”
“Ooooh, is that your little book your writing there?” Heads up: never refer to anything a writer is working on, no matter how big or small, or even miniscule as ‘little’. It will not be good for the health of either involved.
“Can I be in your book?”
Don’t ask to have a character named after you either.
“Oh my god, you’re writing a book? Tell me everything about it.”
Is there anything that makes you heart sink more? I never even liked playing twenty questions in the first place. When someone tells us they are a doctor, we don’t demand to hear all the surgeries they’ll perform that week, or a teacher to recite the times tables, or a lawyer to regurgitate hundreds of legislature to us.
Unfortunately however, there’s some sort of free pass in regards to writers: “How many words have you written? How many pages will there be? Who’s the main character? Does anyone die? What the beginning, middle and end all about? What’s the title?” The questions are relentless, and by the end of it you’ll wonder why this interrogator isn’t just writing the book for you.
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“Don’t worry, you’ll find a real job soon.”
“Oh are you still writing? You’ll find a real job soon enough.” That’s right, because slogging away hours a day researching, churning out thousands of words and the pressures of deadlines always looming is just a made-up fantasy as crazy as one of these books we always have our noses stuck in. Like unicorns, or flying pigs. In fact, maybe I should write something about them instead.
“No way, you have a paid writing job?!”
“You’ve got a writing job? That’s cool. Wait, you’re getting paid for it? That’s amazing!”, (said in loud, shocked voice). Yup, it’s actually quite common for jobs to include the exchange of money for work. I find it a system that works quite well.
Don’t be alarmed; apart from all these minor aggravations (and a few hundred more, depending what mood you catch us in), writers are a happy bunch really. Apart from the psychotic rage that escapes every now and then when you literally can’t think of three words to write. Or when you throw anything you can reach across the room and make a dent in the wall. Or when you’re having a good old cry when it’s three hours before a deadline and all you’ve written is your name. Yeah, a happy, slightly unhinged, bunch. But on second thought, it could just be me…
Guest post contributed by Laura Blackhurst. Laura is the editor-in-Chief at Scotcampus, lives in Scotland, and regularly travels throughout Europe. Check out more of her articles on her blog.