I don’t know if there is a code of ethics for writers out there, but there are a number of things one comes across that leads you to believe that there should be one. So I’ve compiled a list of things that have been said to me/I would hate for people to say to me, and it might all sound a bit brutal, but… well, I’ve never been one to mince words.
1) “You’ve had your success; you can stop writing now.”
Some of you probably saw the Huffington Post article that’s been cycling around the internet for the last couple of days, where one writer plainly asks J.K. Rowling to stop writing and scoot over to the side so others can have the spotlight (actually this is the main reason behind this blog post). I cannot begin to tell you how indignant I was over that; how could that writer even say such a thing? You’d think, being a writer herself, she would know that you can’t just stop writing. It doesn’t work that way.
2) “Hey, I wrote a thing, do you think you could read it?”
No, no, a thousand times no. You don’t get to put me on the spot like that. I REFUSE IT. Knowing me does not entitle you to corner me with a question like that when I might not even your story and probably have a million other things to do! I’m sorry if this sounds mean, but if I wanted to read something, I would ask for it, so why would you make our relationship so awkward to the point where every time I see you I start thinking, “Oh god they’re going to ask me to read their thing again.”
3) “How much money do you earn?”
I really hate this question, not because I’m embarrassed by the meager royalties I receive, but because it makes it seem like I’m only in this for the money. Okay, so I guess there are some who do write for the money, but I doubt they’re very good writers. It can be a bit awkward when you tell people you write simply because you enjoy it and they look at you funny, as if trying to say, “Of all the things you could do, this is how you choose to spend your free time?”
4) “Will you include me in your thanks/dedication?”
This is another one of those things that put me on the spot. How can anyone even ask that? Acknowledgments or dedications are very personal things, and I’m not going to start including every Tom, Dick and Harry just because they ask. I’m sorry, but unless you’ve played a significant part in the publication of the book or influenced me in a great way, there is no way you’re going to see your name there.
5) “Will you include me in your book?”
This is even worse. Believe me, if I wanted to include you as a character in my book, I would’ve told you by now due to legal issues and all that. Plus, do you really want to be in my book knowing fully well I can torture you and give you the most gruesome death? Still want to be in my book?
6) “Do you have, like, a real job?”
I would love more than anything to tell people that I’m a writer, and lately I have been able to do that because writing is currently my primary source of income. However, when I tell people that, they look at me funny – really? Do you do anything else? That’s when I start trying to control my breathing.
And the cherry that tops it all…
7) “I don’t like reading.”
Sadly, I have to deal with this on a daily basis. It never gets easy.
So, these are some things that really get on my nerves. I’m sure there are more absurd things out there, but these get to me the most. What about you? What should people never say to you?