Monday, July 6, 2009

Tell Me, Does This Drive You Nuts?!


Disclaimer: I love my non writing friends. They are top-notch and their hearts are in the right place.

That being said, here is a conversation I recently had (unfortunately, it is not the first time I've had a conversation like this).

friend: So, Tess, what's up with your book?

me: Good news, actually. I recently partnered with a great agent and...

friend: I thought you got one of those a long time ago?

(deep breath, Tess. This sweet friend does not write, has no idea how difficult it can be to get an agent. Do NOT use the high, shaky, screamy voice here. Deep breath.)

me : Um, no. It just happened, actually.

friend: Wow, that took you, like, forever. So, what publisher have you chosen to go with?

me: Actually, it's more difficult than that, you see it is quite competitive and...

friend: Don't you think your writing is good enough to be published?

me: Of course I do, it's just that...

friend: Why don't you call the publisher, or better yet, have your agent call the publisher.

(do not let sarcasm drip from your lips here, Tess. Control it. Control it.)

me: Brilliant idea, I'll get right on it.

friend: See? aren't you glad we had this little chat?

me: Thrilled.



Tricia J. O'Brien said...

eeeeeekkkkkk! No, I haven't ever had a conversation that bad. You deserve a coolness award, for sure.
The worst I've gotten are 1)Have you finished that book yet? 2) Do you have any prospects for selling it, anything lined up?

Cindy said...

Lol. Actually, I shouldn't laugh. I understand completely how frustrating it can be. For me, it's usually "Oh, you wrote a book? What's it called? I'll go to the bookstore and take a look at it."

Ahh...well, at the very least it helps us build self-control. If we can keep from getting utterly frustrated with these people, we can keep our cool for other, perhaps bigger scenarios.

Natalie said...

Oh man, so been there. Actually, now I try not to even mention it. I'm tired of explaining. Maybe when I get a book deal will I start talking to normal, non-writing people about it.

Joyce Wolfley said...

I had a similar, though not quite as obnoxious conversation recently. Yes. It drives me crazy!

Lisa and Laura said...

You just accurately described every single conversation we had at our cook out this weekend. Someone actually said to us, "Well, it's just amazing when you go to a bookstore and see all those books. It just can't be that hard to get a book published."


My word verification was Edietr. Do you think that's a hint? My jeans have been a little tighter than normal recently...

Tess said...

Tricia - eek! was right. I didn't feel cool. I felt speechless.

Cindy - yes, self control. and, reminding ourselves that they are not trying to be difficult, they really aren't. they just don't understand.

Natalie - honestly? there are many, many times I wish I had not mentioned it as early as I did.

Joyce - oh, good! I'm so glad I'm not alone in this :D

Lisa & Laura - see, I saw your verification word as 'editor', not 'diet'. I think it means you will be hearing something VERY soon!! and, love the cookout comment. "It just can't be that hard". nice.

Petula said...

Oh my! I really understand how frustrating that can be, but I had to chuckle. What about the conversation where the person's eyes start to glass over when you're explaining something they asked you. Yea, non-writers are a great group. :) That reminds me, I need to send my manuscript out again... still haven't gotten an agent.

Yat-Yee said...

Both my careers--my previous on as a classical pianist and now as an aspiring writer--invite these kinds of comments. I have to admit, I haven't had one this bad, but I've gotten a lot of the "Oh, how nice!" (for you to have this quaint little hobby) type comments.

Tess said...

Petula - ah, the glassed-over-eyes. Yes, that's a classic response as well. lucky us. and, yes, sounds like it's time for another round of submission (which I like to call "hope in the mail") :D

Yat-Yee - now, I am greatly intriqued by your comment. A classical pianist? that's fantastic! I have a little boy who loves - l.o.v.e.s the piano and a daughter who plays the harp. Don't know if they'll make it as far as you apparantly have, but the music they play is an amazing blessing in our home.

Janna Qualman said...

Criminy! Argh, I so feel for you.

One friend of mine (who claims herself my best) wants so badly to associate with the "future famous and published me." But it's evident when (among other things) she leaves clues she's not sincere and pays my details no mind, like that, upon discussion about the agent process she asks, "And do you have one of those?" Duh, friend. Duh. ;)

You want to give the friend the benefit of the doubt, and understand that they're doing the best they can as a non-writer. But couldn't she pay a little closer attention? Just once?

L.T. Elliot said...

Yeah...I've had those conversations with family and friends. You're much more controlled than me. =] I get the glassy-eyed-stares too but that's cool. I'm used to it.

Way to go, Tess. I'm way proud of you!

JKB said...

Yeah, I get this too. It's like you can go to a publisher like you go to Dunkin' Donuts.


Yunaleska said...

Thankfully I think most of my friends won't ask those kind of questions. If they did, I'd explain exactly how hard it is to get an agent (currently agentless) and ditto publisher.

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

What a great post, Tess! Yup, I've been in similar situations one too many times. I once had a relative suggest that I must have befriended an editor (taken her out to lunch, etc.) to land my first book contract. Because that's how it's done, right? Sigh. Good intentions from those looking at the world of writing and publishing from the outside in can be hard to grapple with.

MeganRebekah said...

Oh that would kill me! You handled it well it seems -- no choking, slapping or biting involved. Yeah!

Scott said...

Serioulsy, Tess, why haven't you asked your agent to call the publisher?? I mean, really!

Too funny . . . and sadly true. Non-writers don't have a clue. I guess that's why I keep my writing a dark little secret that I only share with my closest friends . . . and people in the blogsphere. Thanks for the morning laugh.


Michelle said...

I've gotten good at changing the subject a little to focus on what I have been working on, or a conference I'll be attending or something.

Yat-Yee, I got the same thing as a potter. I ran a production studio that produced roughly 1000 pots a week. It was my job to keep the kilns loaded and firing on schedule, hire, train and supervise part-time staff(usually college art students)and get my own work done as well. And give tours to the public, who often commented on how nice it must be to play in the mud all day.

Crystal said...

Tess, that was TOO funny! But unfortunately, non-writers do think like that A LOT. I always get the "Have you finished your book yet?" It can be truly frustrating. But you handled it well! :)

Tess said...

Janna - Yes, it would be nice if they paid closer attention. this friend was not anywhere near a 'best' so that helps, I guess.

LT - we do get used to it, don't we? And, I really wasn't upset. Just shook my head.

JKB - exactly!!!!!

Yunaleska - I think people are more careful w/ their words over on your side of the pond. We Americans sometimes suffer from "too loose tongue" syndrome :D

Cynthia - wouldn't it be great if it WAS as easy as a lunch date? Piece of cake! lol.

MeganRebekah - thanks. no, no biting or choking involved. funny girl ;)

Scott- I know! What have I been thinking all this time?! I mean, seriously! And, I often wish I held some things closer to my vest.

Michelle - cool! check out the super neat stuff I am learning through this whiney, snitty post. A potter? And to help run a studio like that? How very wonderful...and I bet it was rewarding on so many levels. But, "to play in the mud all day"??? I'm sure they thought they were the first to think of that clever joke ;)

Crystal - Yes, I laugh at it, too. It is funny and it's important we don't get upset or make a big deal out of it. Like I said at the start of the post, these are good people through and through. My point is - non writing people don't have a clue how difficult it is or how long the journey is. *sigh*

Great comments, guys! Thanks!

Shelli said...

Ive had those exact convos. bless them

B.J. Anderson said...

LOL! Yeah, they just don't get it.

Jill Kemerer said...

I'm going to go pick up an agent and tell them to sell my book to the editor I want right now! I had no idea it was so easy! Thanks, Tess!

quixotic said...

Oh My Goodness. I needed a good laugh. LoL. Non writers just don't get it. HA HA HA HA

Lady Glamis said...

HAH! I don't know exactly how this feels, but pretty close. I deal with a lot of non writer friends who just don't GET it. URGH!

superpaige said...

Wow. Even I, a non writer, gets it a bit better than that. Sorry about the frustration. And good for you for biting your tongue. I'm sure they didn't mean anything by their ignorant comments, they just don't know any better.

Davin Malasarn said...

I think this is one of the perks of living in Los Angeles. Everyone assumes I'm a failure rather than automatically thinking I'm a success! My conversations are more like:

"So, how's your book coming."

"Fine, I just finished it."

"Sure you did, and I bet you think you can get an agent. Better not quit your day job."

Tess said...

Shelli - so glad to hear it. it helps to know we're not alone in this crazy thing.

BJ - nope.

Jill - I've been wonderin' when you were gonna do that. Apparantly, like JKB said, they're at Dunkin Donuts. Now we know ;)

Quixotic - it's good we can laugh, right?

Glam - exactly. heart in the right place, but no clue. and, that's ok, really. I mean, I was clueless before I started really getting into this writing gig. In fact, I'm still pretty clueless about so many things!

Paige - you are a true friend who listens. bless you. and, I totally get that there was no intent for harm in this conversation. I found it truly funny.

Davin - now THAT'S funny!

Suzanne said...

I had five people come up to me at the cookout I went to and tell me what books I HAD TO READ because they sounded SO MUCH LIKE WHAT I WAS WRITING. Egad.

Anonymous said...

OK what I hate are the people who think vanity publishing and real publishing are the same thing. ARGHHH.

Anita said...

I wonder if you could have your friend call me...I could use her advice. :)

Lisa said...

I hear you, Tess. When I tell people that I've finished the FIRST DRAFT of my book, they often say, "So, do you have publisher lined up?"

I try to breath deep and blather something about how it doesn't really work like that.

I think I'll start saying, "Yeah, in fact I have three or four lined up and waiting for me to finish those revisions."

The thing is, they'd probably believe me.

Robyn Campbell said...

I hate those conversations! A friend I hadn't seen in a while and I had this conversation. Friend,"So Robyn, is your book published yet?" Me, "Uh no, I just finished writing it." Her, "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't know you were having trouble with it." Me, "I wasn't having any trouble, it takes more than a month to write a book." Her, "I see." She changes subject on purpose. I go home and SCREAM! You handle these things so much better than I do. I wanted to smack friend upside the head! :)

Tess said...

Suzanne - shall we take a 'no cook out' pact till after our books are in print? It's tempting.

Anita - lol! Be careful what you ask for;)

Lisa - Let's tell them we would have our books out,but instead we're wasting time being caught up in a huge bidding war. I like that one.

Robyn - How could we forget about the classic, 'change the subject' routine? Yes, it's an oldie but goodie.

ElanaJ said...

Man, I've had conversations like that. My latest one was:

Them: Who's publishing your book?

Me: *laughing* Well, I'm trying to get a literary agent first.

Them: *blank look*

Me: *They have no idea what an agent is. For the love.*


Can't wait to meet you today!

Corey Schwartz said...

OMG, too funny to be believed. Was that really how it went... or did you take writer's liberty and embellish? :)

Danyelle said...

Wow. Seriously. Wow.

Solvang Sherrie said...

I cringe every time I hear the "So, what's up with your book?" Really. Don't. Want. To Hear It!

Tess said...

Elana - love the blank look, too funny!

Corey - sorry to say it was a real conversation. like I said, the person is top notch, but non writers really don't understand how difficult getting your foot in the publishing door can be.

Danyelle - yep. wow.

Sherrie - Me too, but it's hard because they are trying to be involved and interested in our lives. That's what a good friend does. it's just such a difficult question to answer if they don't know the industry or process.