Gotta Love The Clueless

This week, I sat down with some friends and we talked about stuff.  We hadn’t done that in a while, so it was good.  Until we got to that part where one guy, who I didn’t know so well, asked, “Why don’t you just get your books published by NY?  I mean–how hard can it be?”

It took a lot for me not to reach across the table and answer him like this…

Luckily, I remained calm and put it to him this way.  “Gee, I don’t know.  Maybe I should just call someone up and demand the JK Rowling contract.”

“Yeah, why not?”

I shook my head because Jacked-Up-the-Ass wasn’t getting it.  “It took me longer to get my first book published than it did for me to earn my bachelors degree and that was with an e-pub.  It’ll be nine years in May since I’ve started on this writing journey.  During that time, I also earned a masters degree and that was with a two-year hiatus in between.  I’ve finished my education in eight years and I’ve been writing for nine.  So, name withheld to protect the innocent, at this rate, do you think it’s easier for me to earn a PhD or to break into NY, especially since they have these four-five-six-figure contracts just lying around collecting dust?”

His reply: “Oh.  Okay.”

One of my biggest pet-peeves is when someone who doesn’t understand the business enough to know that I can’t just pick up a NY contract like I would my dry cleaning.  It doesn’t work like and the asker is bound to get hurt before he/she will get an answer.  Those of us who’ve been in this business a long time know how it works.  Telling me I’m doing it wrong or wasting my time by sending query letters when I should fly to NY and meet with an editor in person to pitch my story will only get me arrested, banned, or locked away in a padded cell. 

We writers know what we’re doing.  Trust us.  I don’t tell a mechanic how to fix my car, so I don’t like it when a someone who doesn’t have a clue about publishing tells me how I should go about landing a NY contract.  In fact, I’m keeping a list of names in case I become a NY Time Bestselling author some day.  I want to make sure I don’t thank the clueless people for my success.  In fact, I’m looking for disavowing any knowledge of their existence.  :mrgreen:

How do you respond to people who act like they have the answer when, in fact, they don’t have a a freakin’ clue?


24 thoughts on “Gotta Love The Clueless

  1. That was one of my favorite Cher scenes! And this post rocks, it’s so darn true. 😎 It’s a good thing I love writing, cause this gig is not for the faint of heart. Those clueless observations are just that. I know what I’m doing and what it’s like out there, that’s all the matters. I don’t get as much of those moments these days since I’m not out in the work force, but reading this made me remember. lol.

  2. That was such a good post Marcia! I laughed. The clip was priceless. And, unfortunately, it is all so true. Maybe in a way we writers should be flattered. Your every day guy who has never written a book considers it to be a big deal. A life changing big deal. One that should obviously be immediately recognized. And it is – just not monetarily – or at least usually not off the hop – at least not by NY. My encounters with the misperceptions of writing has been a little less intrusive – the kind you can brush off – so far. One person suggested that this was my ticket out (of a salaried pod life) – tomorrow! I nodded my head and said eventually. I mean really, that is my dream. The reality – probably much longer than tomorrow or even this year – sigh.

  3. Marcia, I loved this post! The video made me laugh.

    Lucky for my husband, he stopped asking that, otherwise I might try Cher’s method on him. Except for him (in the past), no one else has ever asked me that.

  4. You know, LaDonna, you bring up a good point. This business isn’t for the faint of heart. If this guy decided to write a book, he’d end up quitting before he could ever get started. Thank goodness my coworkers are smart enough to know I won’t be quitting my job anytime soon. Otherwise, it would become a very hostile environment.

  5. 😆 Ryshia, I know exactly what you mean by the salaried-pod life.

    I am flattered that someone recognizes what a big accomplishment it is to have your name out there. But boy, is there a huge misconception out there about what it really means to be published. Then again, they see people like Stephanie Meyer who gets a huge book and movie deal and think all writers are headed in the same direction. If that were true, everyone and their rabbit would have a book out.

  6. 😆 Edie, I had this picture in my head of you smacking him while he stood at the top of a staircase. He falls backwards, and you’re sitting in a chair with your feet up, counting the insurance money.

  7. Count me on the Cher scene, although I would have done it with something sharp and lethal in my slapping hand like barbwire or a concentrated acid solution. Since my dearest alive and tangible people [yes Marci I do talk to the dead occasionaly like on New Year’s Eve, my birthday and Sprng Break, alcohol is my medium] are not writers they don’t get it… And all I do is huff and puff and roll my eyes, when I wish to simply shove them in front ofa speeding vehicle. My hands twitch in reflex to strangle people, when I hear nonesense like that.

    But I guess it is to be expected… I mean look how Stephanie Meyer and the kid behind Eragon started their career, one with a sudden bang and the later by meeting the right people at the right time.

  8. LOL! Harry, I wanted to you a 2×4 (not sure why that seems to be my weapon of choice, these days), but we were in a restaurant. Had we been in an alley, it would’ve been a different story.

    One of the things I find most ironic is those “dearest” and “tangible” friends of ours haven’t even tried writing a book, and yet they love to tell us how to sell one. What kind of sense does that make? I wonder if the clueless told Stephanie Meyer or the Eragon kid how they should go about selling their books. I bet if they did, they’re probably glad neither one listened to the shoddy advice.

  9. After I had finished my second ms and in the middle of a third, my husband brought up publication. Sure, secretly I dreamed of my place on Oprah’s couch, but let’s get real. And then I did.

    I had no idea the tumultuous road I faced. Nasty contest judges’ comments nearly made me quit, but luckily, kinder authors offered guidance. Today, the only comments that make me cringe are from the first time writer who self-pubs because they’ve heard the word “rejected” whispered in corners. And speaking of self-publishing, I could really smack the person who suggests it. My reply to them, “Ah, thanks, but no thanks.”

    I believe one must suffer the road to greatness and not purchase their name in lights.

  10. Kath, I’ve had people ask me why don’t I self-pub my books instead. When I ask them how many self-pubbed authors they’ve read, I get silence. This is coming from people who’ve read one article about the kid who self-pubbed Eragon and hit it big. That’s one story in how many self-pubbed books that are out there?

    As I’ve stated before, the ones who think they know this business don’t have a clue as to what they’re talking about. These are the people who have never stepped a toe into our arena or haven’t been in long enough to “suffer the road to greatness.” I think once they’ve earned their stripes, then they can do and say whatever they want and, I might actually open up an ear to them and listen to their opinion. But until then, I’m more than happy to offer them a “talk to the hand” gesture as I push them out the door. 😎

  11. I am not sure why people do that… I think it has to do with the know it all complex. You see how much information is pread through media and the Internet and you can be one click away from something other people probably don’t know, so this makes people believe they are genuises after one article on the matter…. I don’t pretend like I haven’t attempted to do the same, because it is inate, but damn it I try not to precisely cause it’s annoying…

  12. Harry, I know a ton of people who are like that. They read an article or listen to a news report, and suddenly, they know it all. But it all comes down to how you share that information. Too many people come at it with the know-it-all attitude and they come off looking like a morons. It’s always better to come at it from an “I heard from so and so” angle. I’m more apt to listen to anyone who comes at me like that because it doesn’t give me a reason to throw up the defenses. I could be wrong, but I think that works better than someone going for the gut.

  13. Oh Marcia, I’ve been holding out for a freshly inked contract…you’re right, I should have just asked for one of those old dusty ones!
    I’ve run into my share of people like your clueless friend. I haven’t really figured out what to say yet other than to shrug and agree that NY is my goal. A nice smack does sound like it might help sometimes.

  14. Kalayna, sometimes just agreeing with them is probably the best way to handle it. If nothing else, it shuts them up faster. 😉

    The sad part is they’re a more out there. I think the next moron encounter I have I’ll just tell them that’s like going down to the lottery office and requesting they give you the winning Powerball ticket. Maybe that’ll give them a clue.

  15. I really gotta find one of those NY contracts that are gathering dust. They must be all over the place.

    You have to love clueless people like that. Besides making us crazy, they’re pretty good entertainment (and blogging) material. My other favorite question is “how much did you make on your book?” I used to get annoyed by that question, but now I just figure its a natural curiousity. Particularly since my answer is usually “not enough to quit my day job.” and leave it at that.

    I’m gonna have to dig out my “Moonlight” DVD. You just reminded me why I’ve always enjoyed that movie. Thanx.

  16. Oh Liz! 😆 I remember the first time I got that “Did you make a lot of money?” question. I think I replied with something like “I’m standing here looking at you over a cup of coffee. Does it look like I made a lot of money?” At this point, people have learned not to ask. The day I call in rich, everyone will know, I’m sure.

    And when you dig up one of those dusty contracts, can you courier-pigeon one to me? I think the last one ordered through the 1-800 number got lost in the mail. 😉

  17. Amen to that!

    Great post because I have the same thing happen so many, many times. Mostly, it’s well meaning friends who ask innocently after not seeing me for several months if I’m published, YET. I can almost tell by their pitying look to my negative response that they are thinking, “well, maybe she’s just chasing the wind. maybe she’s not that good.” After I see this look I try to explain just how hard it is to get a contract. That most of my friends have been trying for years. How it took so many years for most popular authors to make it.

    Then someone brings up Stephanie Meyer and I just about pull a Cher on them.

    She is an anomaly. Writing a book, then getting it published within 6 months and it immediately becomes a best seller. WTF???

    The stars truly aligned for her. Or some soul selling was involved … not sure. But I digress. 😛

    With that said, this is why I love going to writing conferences. You all get it. I can let down my guard and share my pain and frustration and share the joy at my friends’ progresses after seeing them struggle for so many years. It definitely makes you appreciate the process of writing even more. People in my life like you keep me sane and keep me from killing anyone who deserves a Cher moment.

  18. People in my life like you keep me sane and keep me from killing anyone who deserves a Cher moment.

    Girlfriend, don’t let me stop you. Heck, I’ll be your alibi. 😆

    Stephanie Meyer was the biggest freakin’ anomaly around. How many years did it take Stephen King? Or what about James Patterson and John Grisham? JK Rowling wasn’t an overnight success either. So anyone who pulls that Stephanie Meyer card is playing with a one-card deck. They need to get the standard one of fifty-two and shut the heck up while they’re at it.

    Nothing makes me roll my eyes faster than that “chasing a dream” look from other people. Common sense should tell everyone that if publishing a book were so easy and a quick and dirty way to toward easy money, then why aren’t they doing it? Why isn’t everyone on their block doing it? One of these days, Jen, we’re going to do wonderful things with our writing. And when that day comes, I’m looking forward to telling the clueless, “You know that dream you said I was chasing? Well, it’s been caught, seasoned, and barbecued…and you can’t have any.” 😉

  19. What a hilarious post and comments.

    I think we all dream of that Stephanie Meyers success- well, I know I do anyway. I often find myself setting near-impossible standards and dreams for myself pushing me to work a little harder- because hey, I’m just starting out as a fiction writer. And Lord knows the freelance/magazine writing industry has groomed me for rejection so it’s nice to keep little nuggets of joy (like Nicholas Sparks’ $1 million advance on his first solo book, “The Notebook”) in my pocket for days when writing sucks and the industry swallows.

    But any logical person can see the chances are it’s not going to happen like that for them. Although, it would be nice…

    I’ve always gotten that “yeah, right- she’ll never make it” when I tell people my goal of being a published author and that awful intuitive knowledge that your “frenemies” are talking up your failure behind your back…

    This is why it’s good to have “writer friends”- the ones that don’t give you the sudden urge to roundhouse kick their teeth out.

  20. Tivi, I’d LOVE to have the Stephanie Meyer’s or Nicholas Sparks fame and fortune. Are you kidding me? 😀 But what a lot of people who don’t know the writing business forget is that for each of those success stories there are how many books in a book store? Still, like you said, “it would be nice.”

    And you just had to bring up the word “frenemies” didn’t you? 😉 That’s exactly what they are. The only good thing about them is they’re so entrenched in their jealousy that eventually, they wear their jealousy on their sleaves. That’s when you know to throw up the hand and tell them to pick their sour fruit elsewhere.

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