Writing. Sometimes it's hard. Sometimes you stare at the screen for hours and want to throw coffee onto your monitor. Sometimes you just can't and it takes hours to get the fire started. Sometimes, this is all made easier by supportive friends and family.
Other times, those friends and family are going to make you want to rip your hair out.
That friend that gushes about how much they love your work and has obviously never read it.
They just spooge about this stuff. They go on and on about how amazing they think what you do is and get so super hype. The only problem is they can't name any of the characters. They don't know anything that happened in the book. "Oh, I just liked all of them and the whole thing was great, honest. I really did read it!"
Bonus points if you gave them a copy for free.
People can always, always tell if you actually read the book or not. Always. I'm sure you've been in a lit class at one point where someone came in having read the cliffnotes and missed all the nuance and you just knew? It's like that but worse because, especially if you're indie, you probably don't have those.
If you say 'who was your favorite character' and they say 'the main one' and don't use their name...they totally didn't read it.
Why people do this: Because they love you and they feel bad that they never got around to reading the book. They want you to think they're being supportive and get credit for being supportive even when they aren't.
That friend that wants to be in it, and either doesn't know or doesn't care what it's about.
Someone you know is going to get really hype and just want to be in the story. That is not always bad. I've included the tabletop characters of my friends in books before and we had a great time with that, and a great time with the books afterwards. Sometimes, though, you're going to have that one person whose like "oh, you're writing another book? Put me in it as a samurai!"
"...Jasper it's set in Victorian England."
"I just think katanas are so cool though and you do that weird scifi stuff right? I could be a time traveler."
Lord I wish I was exaggerating.
Why they do this: They're just excited. They like to read probably and have read a bunch of books that they just wanted to get into and muck around in and then they realize oh hey, I know this person that does this. And they don't think before they open their mouth.
"It's so great that you finished your novel, maybe I'll write one, I could use the pocket money."
Oh. Oh my gods.
Okay seriously, if you are ever talking to an author and you think about saying this just shut your mouth go back to the drawing board and stall out until you think of something else. Five minutes of silence is the better option, I promise you.
You do not go to a dentist and say "maybe I'll fill some cavities, I could use the pocket money". You do not go to a painter and say "maybe I'll throw down some landscapes, I could use the pocket money". I don't know why everyone thinks it's acceptable to say this kind of thing to a writer.
The only other medium I can think of that gets it as bad as we do (and I'll admit they probably get it worse) are photographers. Everybody thinks they're a pro at photographs now because of their camera phones. I guess it's because most people have it in them to string words into a coherent sentence and also to press the little button on their phone that takes the picture.
Friends, you can see the difference. Clumsy writing is not the same as good writing it takes practice. No one is going to want to buy your grainy blurry camera pictures, and just because it doesn't come out blurry doesn't mean it's good. And how much more disrespectful can you be of the hours and hours this person took to learn their craft?
Why people do this: Because they think more highly of themselves than they should, probably. They really honestly think they have a good idea of what it takes to write a book and are honestly delusional about how much effort it is. And I guess when you know the parts of speech that can be kind of an easy mistake to make.
That family member that, every time they see you, asks when you're going to get a real job no matter how much money you're making.
Everybody's got that one person in their family who doesn't think art can be a career. I don't know what they think you're doing all day but clearly they don't think putting fingers to keys counts. Maybe it's because they don't think literature is productive to society or maybe they just don't think you're as good as you think you are, but 100% they probably haven't read any of your work to verify.
Why they do this: Either they are legitimately concerned about you or they are bitter and angry that they never pursued an art like they wanted to. Uncle Larry that is always making these comments probably wanted to be the next Metallica.
That friend that throws it back in your face when you're having an unrelated argument and you didn't say a single thing about it. "I know you're an author that doesn't mean you're always right!"
Maybe this one just comes up if you and your friends do creative things together. I know this one has only come up for me when working on creative things with friends. We'll have differences and push our individual points, things will be totally normal and then somebody gets frustrated and this gem comes tumbling out of their mouth.
Why they do this: Even if you haven't mentioned it yourself, everyone knows it. They know it. It's weighing on them. When they say it, it's because you haven't said it and they want to invalidate you as that kind of arrogant person that would lord this over people's heads. But since you didn't actually do it, it's not going to work.
Probably worth letting this one go, to be honest.
"So, when is the movie coming out?"
It's always well meaning but it's almost always cringy. Especially if you're nowhere near 'possible movie deal' sales yet. No one ever means to highlight the massive gulf between you and the massive success you may or may not hope to have, but they do it anyway with comments like these.
Why they do it: They're teasing and they really believe in you. And they don't understand how few books actually get made into movies.
That hipster that won't stop snidely insinuating that everything you do is derivative as though anything period isn't.
Okay so when you write it's useful to be able to compare your work to other works. That's how genres works. Right now, the book I'm working on is basically Goodfellas meets Gatsby meets Supernatural and I'm stoked as hell about it (pun fully intended). That's honestly the statement I have used to hook some people onto the idea. And that's valid.
This person though, you just know they're trying to undercut you. They're like "Oh, this is another vampire story, alright", and smile like they're following along but they're totally just being a big jerk face.
Why they do it: This person is jealous and probably way too negative about their own life so they have to try to bring you down too. Or they're jaded and know nothing about literature. Feel bad for this person and don't take it personally.
That guy you know that has magnanimously taken it upon himself to explain how literature works to you, you poor soul. (He's like, an accountant.)
I hate this guy. And before you yell at me it is almost always a guy. There's a reason they call it mansplaining. I run into this guy every time I go to a party and he's never the same person. He usually has a goatee and/or a fedora though.
"So what do you write?"
"I've been working on a space opera recently--"
"Oh well you HAVE to be sure to get the science right, that is like so important in the science fiction genres or no one is going to take you seriously. I really hope you're sprinkling in some social commentary about man's tendency to try to conquer everything, you need a solid message, you know?"
"Well it's space opera, so it really focuses more on the characters."
He doesn't say it, but the look on his face says 'oh you sweet summer child'. If you're lucky, you get away fast. If you're not, he can go on for fucking hours.
Why they do it: Honestly these guys just desperately want to look like they know something about something and no one cares to ask them about their accounting.
"So, when are you going to get real published?"
Face in palms. Muffled screaming.
Alright. So there's a ton of reasons you'd want to go indie over traditional. This person has done none of that research and insists that self-published work isn't as good or as worthy for whatever reason. The stigma is not dead and most people just aren't aware of how many benefits there are to flying solo.
Why they do it: Mostly lack of information. Some of them are trying to discredit you. If they're writers themselves and haven't published yet, it's probably the latter.
That friend (or more likely, acquaintance) that finds out you write and then spends the next two hours telling you about the book (or more likely series!) that they always meant to work on but "never found the time".
Man some people just get off on stealing other people's thunder. And even if it's just a one on one conversation, they're telling you this story right now because they're never going to get it down so you can read it. They're just going to tell it to you.
I don't need to tell you why they do this. You know why. They want your approval and think if you say it sounds interesting it will some how make them legitimate in the way they can't be right now because they refuse to put their butt in a chair and hammer out the words for it.
A lot of the time, this is the same guy who feels the need to tell you how to do your job.
Anyway, that's my ramble, hopefully it made you chuckle. Don't forget to keep checking back for updates on Torchlighters <3
Megan R. Miller