Charley Robson writes about what absolutely NOT TO SAY to your friend if he or she is a writer…Read on.
Being a writer is full of struggles – most of them being, well, writing. It’s a long process, a draining one, and it will make you doubt everything from your commitment to your ability to string a basic sentence together.
Luckily, we all have friends around us to keep us sane and balanced on days when we’ve been staring at a blinking cursor for more hours than we’ve been asleep. Fantastic friends, who encourage us and tolerate long rambles about the difficulties of constructing an economy for a race of space-faring rabbit people.
Yes, friends are wonderful. But if you are a friend of a writer, here’s a few phrases to avoid to keep things harmonious between you and your resident creative mad person…
– “What’s it about?”
The biggest, the baddest, the most obvious. Don’t even bother. Odds are, even we don’t know.
2 – “Aww, this character is my favourite!”
Within every writer, a little demon lies waiting, waiting for you to confess this. That little demon can take us from Jacqueline Wilson to George R.R. Martin in a moment. Declare favourites at your peril.
3 – “… Is this foreshadowing?”
That innocent piece of prose may not have been leading up to a soul-eviscerating plot twist before, but it probably is now.
4 – “This sounds like [insert popular franchise here]”
There are enough doubts in the writing process without bringing up accusations of plagiarism – because that’s exactly what this feels like. Odds are, we already know that our vampire-oriented urban fantasy will face a few too many comparisons to Twilight, we don’t need anything else to send us into another spiral of self-doubt.
5 – “Can I read it?”
No! No! It’s not ready yet, and it won’t be ready until we’ve re-read, revised, redrafted, revolutionised, re-vamped and reverse engineered it the required sixty squillion times.
Then you can read it. Maybe. If I don’t do another redraft…
6 – “Am I in it?”
Different authors have different policies on using their real-life friends and families in their work – but asking this question will see that your only inclusion will likely end in being devoured by the evil flying fish finger monster from Mars. If you’re lucky.
And the big one…
7 – “Is it worth it?”
Ah, there it is. The one that haunts our nightmares, the one that dogs every twitch of our fingers over the keyboard. Is it? Is it? We don’t always know. But we do know we won’t have any idea until we finish.
So, keep your doubts behind your teeth, and pass us another coffee. We’ll appreciate it. And if, one day, this scribbly manuscript launches itself to the top of the New York Times and launches its author to a life of fame and fortune, we’ll remember you, too.