Never Say That
You’ve heard of lapsed Catholics? I’m a lapsed OCD sufferer … or a broken one—I don’t obsessively make lists, but I do find myself drawn to them. Needing to read them. Whether it’s the stupidest reasons a network TV show got cancelled or the 15 most hypo-allergenic pygmy goats.
Maybe I’m OCD adjacent.
Whatever the term, yesterday I was reading a list called “50 Things You Should Never Say to a Child.” They had all the things you’d expect, like never tell a child that if she doesn’t eat her Brussels sprouts, you’ll lock her in the cellar, and “That’s what I get for flipping a coin at the adoption agency.”
Anyhow, it got me thinking that there are things you should never say to writers. Where’s our list? Many of us are adopted, and opinions vary wildly when it comes to Brussels sprouts.
Oh well. If you want something done right …
Here are a few things you should never say to writers:
- Good things come to those who wait. Okay, I wrote that as an example and had this overwhelming urge to punch myself. There is no good analogy that explains just how much writers hate waiting. And talking about waiting to writers is right up there on the sensitivity scale with, “Besides that Mrs. Lincoln, how’d you like the play?”
- That’s nice, but I’m really not much of a reader. That one’s a little like going to the Super Bowl wearing a shirt that says, The Only Real Football Is Soccer. When the crown gets done with you, you’ll wish I locked you in the basement for not eating vegetables.
- You’ve been doing this for how long, and you’re not published yet? That’s like stabbing someone with a waiting question, twisting the knife, and breaking it off in the wound. Imagine you just had rotator cuff surgery—your shoulder is a delicate, tender rainbow of bruises, and the girl or guy you had the biggest crush on in high school is sitting behind you, tapping the most sensitive area over and over with a ballpeen hammer, and with each blow they give you another reason you were too pathetic for them to go out with you. If that’s what the question does to us, imagine what we want to do to you for asking it.
- I’ve thought about writing a book when I retire (or win the lottery). And when I retire, I’ve thought about trying brain surgery. How hard can it be—wanna be my first patient?
- I’ve got a great idea for a book. How about you write it, and we split the profits. Let me get this straight. You got drunk and sidled up to me at a party because the person you were hitting on had some sense and told you to get lost. You corner me and spit-whisper two sentences from the last TV show you remembered, and I’m supposed to sweat blood over it for six months to two years and give you money? Who mixed your drinks and where can I get one? ’Cause it’s obviously taken you to a magical place.
- You write anything I’d know about? Those hors d’eouvres you’ve been snorting down like cheap cocaine on sale? I wrote the check that paid for them.
Get outta my house.
I got people in the cellar to feed.