Questions surround people. As a parent of nine-year-old twins, questions are a constant in my household. “Why do we have homework anyway?” “What’s for dinner?” “Why can’t I stay up later than my bedtime?” As a writer, I have to constantly ask questions about my characters. “Why do you want that?” It would be so much easier if you didn’t want that but wanted something else instead. “But why do you need that so bad?” “What do you fear will happen if you don’t get that right away?” And as a writer, my job is to make sure the character doesn’t get what they want right away and make one huge obstacle to overcome. And if it’s the villain, then he or she absolutely can’t get what he or she wants.
But I noticed something when I started telling people I’m a writer. Unlike my husband, who is a pharmacist and either gets a polite nod before the conversation returns to normal or a quick question about pharmaceuticals, people feel obligated to comment on my status as an author. These comments and questions are almost invariably the same to the point where I thought they’d make an interesting blog post.
“Oh, wow, I know I have a book in me, too.”
And, some of the time, the follow-up line to this one is “but I have a life and I live it rather than writing about it.” But most of the time, the follow-up is “but I have no idea where to start.”
My husband still regrets the time someone said this to me at a party because I spent the next forty-five minutes explaining where to start before he pulled me aside and told me the person had just been making polite conversation.
Most of the time, people are saying this to be polite, but sometimes meeting another author gives a person a nudge into actually looking inward and deciding he or she wants to write that story after all.
“Where can I buy your book?”
When I tell people I’m trying to make that happen but my books aren’t available online or in bookstores (YET), I often get that wink and head nod that says they don’t believe I’ve actually written a book. It’s a huge commitment to sit down and write an entire book. Yes, I really am a writer even though I’m not published (YET). Indie publishing has revolutionized the writing industry, but each author has to dig deep and strive for the path he or she believes best serves him or her.
“You write romance novels. Okay, then.”
And the person scurries off. Fast. Yes, I write romance novels, and I’m proud of it. Romance novels deal with rich and multi-layered themes. Books with a “happy ever after” ending provide hope and often inspiration to so many. Romance is the number one best-selling genre of fiction, and for good reason.
“J. K. Rowling’s really rich. Do you want to be the next J. K. Rowling?”
I love Harry Potter novels. I’ve read the seven main books in the Harry Potter series. She deserves every accolade. And I love following her on Twitter. She is an amazing author. But writers don’t start writing for the money although I know several who are fortunate enough to earn a living through writing.
Most of the time, writers have to get the story on paper and hope others will read it and find themselves lost in that fictional world for a few hours. Each writer has a different reason for writing, and that personal motivation is what makes writers sacrifice time and energy into crafting a book they ultimately hope others will enjoy as much as they enjoyed writing it.
However, as much as I admire J. K. Rowling, I don’t want to be her. I like me, and I like the books I write.
And every author’s favorite line: “Writing’s so easy anyone can do it.”
I still haven’t come up with a better response than a genuine chuckle. The best part is my husband’s chuckle is always louder than my own. Supportive and understanding, he knows how hard it is to write and edit a novel.
As a writer, what are the questions people inevitably ask you?