1-Where do you get your ideas?
Various famous author-types have tackled this one with answers as diverse as Schenectady (upstate New York), Utica (upstate New York) and “the world around me”, which can be boiled down to “everywhere, including upstate New York”. The correct answer, then, is “Upstate New York.” If you wish to become a serious writer, you should immediately sell all of your possessions, buy a charming bed-and-breakfast in the Finger Lakes region, and acquire a taste for Gennesee Cream Ale.
Either that, or find your own source of inspiration. I’m told it can be done as far south as Maryland.
2-I have a great idea for a novel. If I tell it to you, will you write it so we can share the profits?
3-Could you write me into your next book?
With the exception of one specific former coworker, who asked to be included in one of my novels in the guise of a water nymph (and a less nymph-like fellow you cannot possibly imagine), the answer to this is almost invariably “No.” This is for one simple reason: if I do it, you will get mad at me over the results. I mainly write A)horror novels and B)video games wherein lots and lots of people get shot. If I write you into anything, odds are that the fictional version of you is going to die. Horribly. And then you’ll be mad.
4-Do you know what you should have done with your last book?
Two things. One, written it faster. Two, added more llamas. Llamas are a clear sign of quality. Anything else?
5-Can you get me a copy of [insert name of highly anticipated best-selling book] in advance, because you’re a writer? I know all of you writers hang out together.
Sadly, it’s true. J.K. Rowling actually lives around the corner, and frequently admonishes me to keep my cat out of her carefully tended begonias. We regularly go bowling with Mitch Albom, Clive Cussler, and P.G. Wodehouse (remarkably good English on his ball, especially for a dead guy) because all writers do in fact know each other by virtue of being in the same profession. As such, we are more than happy to randomly fling copies of books by any and every author out there around as requested, in a sort of Pacman Jones “making it rain hardbacks” scenario.
But, since reciprocity is only fair, I asked a friend of mine who’s an orthodontist if he could get me some free veneers from a cosmetic dentist in LA. Because, after all, they’re in the same business so they must know each other.
6-Seriously. Why don’t you want to write this awesome book I had the idea for?
Because my time is, sadly, finite, and I don’t have enough of it to write half of my own ideas.
Because your idea may or may not be that good, and if I tell you it isn’t, you’re going to get mad.
Because writing “your” idea means that you are invariably going to meddle in my writing process, which is going to make the writing process less enjoyable for both of us.
Because I like my ideas better.
Because I am a selfish jerk and unwilling to devote my time to your vision.
Take your pick.
7-I want to be a writer. What should I do?
Scientific studies have shown that roughly 86.4% of all people who ask questions about “how do I become a writer?” actually mean “How do I become a best-selling author without actually taking the time to sit down and write?” The answer, of course, is “make a sex tape and release it on the internet.” Unwanted side effects include the possibility of having multiple reality shows on E!, so consider yourself warned.
Actually sitting down and writing has proven to be a far less effective and far more time-intensive approach, but there are those who still insist on following it.
We have names for those sorts of people, but I’m not going to print them in a family blog.
8-Why do you write?
Because I’m lousy at math.