These are my twelve pet peeves--my dirty dozen, if you will--about people who know I'm a writer--but don't understand that I'm a writer. For those of you with whom I share DNA, a bathroom, or just a place at the occasional holiday table, wedding reception, or graveside, please be advised that I am speaking for many writers. Indeed, this could be ANY writer talking to any of his or her relatives, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, etc.
1. When I know the date my next book will be published, I will tell you—just like I did the last time it happened. Resist the urge to demand, “What’s the problem?” or "What's the holdup?" I find it rude and intimidating.
2. Don’t assume that just because I don’t tell you about every query or submission I make, or every rejection I receive, that it must mean I’m “not trying” anymore, or even that I'm not trying hard enough. I don’t tell you every time I go to the bathroom, either. For that matter, neither do you, and for the record, I don’t want to know.
3. Stop exhorting me to write children’s books just because I have children. Older generations are notorious for this, yet I never heard my mother or grandmother say, "You should write erotica because you've had sex." At the time of my marriage, I'd been writing (and rewriting) a family saga of a thousand-plus pages, in multiple volumes. Later I switched to writing romance, but no one ever suggested I do so because I searched for true love--and found it.
4. Please read what I’ve already had published before you ask if I’ve ever considered writing a book in what you think is a different setting/time period—but in fact is the same one as my published work. It makes me wonder why you’re always bugging me about when my next book will be published. We won’t go into what it makes you.
5. Yes, I do have extra copies of my book. No, I will not give you one of them. Since you seem to be losing a lot of sleep obsessing about my sales figures, why not put your money where your mouth is and help improve them.
6. Yes, of course I’m still writing! (I also still go to the bathroom.) No, you cannot read it until it’s published. No. I said, NO!
When you're under the same roof:
7. If the door to my office is closed, that means I’m working on my writing, and I do not wish to be disturbed, unless you need EMS.
8. If you must disturb me for something other than EMS, please knock.
9. Opening my office door very quietly is not the same thing as knocking. If it was, I’d leave the door open.
10. Coming in to my office to tell me the water bill just came in the mail is not the same thing as telling me you need EMS—unless you sustained a paper cut while opening the envelope, or suffered a heart attack at the amount we ran up after the last time the usual suspect flooded half the house.
11. If my door is locked, it’s because you wouldn’t knock when it was unlocked, so you lost your unlocked door privileges. (Say that ten times very fast, and I just might reinstate them.) But it doesn’t mean that instead of knocking, you should pick the lock—unless you need EMS, in which case, if you can rummage through the kitchen drawer looking for something you can use to pick a lock, then surely you can just as easily rummage through the bathroom cabinet for the adhesive bandages—or even call 911 yourself.
12. If you’re wondering why I’m curled up inside the laundry hamper or the kitchen sink with my laptop, it’s because I concluded these must be the only two places left in the house where I could work undisturbed, since no one else seems to be aware of their existence.