When it comes to professions, being a Writer is unique in that people often feel inspired to say to us whatever pops into their minds. From strangers at cocktail parties to long-standing relations, we’ve all been confronted with pretty odd parlays. What’s most bewildering is that those same people would never say such things upon meeting a doctor or sitting down to dine with a lawyer or even the kind old lady who makes their daily latte. They may wonder how much the doctor makes taking throat cultures; what illicit case the attorney has in hand; why a woman in her golden years would still be working at the coffee shop; but it’s common courtesy to respect those individual’s lives and vocations.
Enter the Writer, and all etiquette gloves are off.
I’ve had my painful share of experiences. One that never fails to arise at distant family gatherings is: “So Sarah, how are your books doing—are they selling?”
It seems innocent enough and yet, it’s a terribly uncomfortable question to put forth in the midst of carving the turkey. All other conversations shush and everyone waits to hear my response. I always come so close to answering, “Only to readers! Pass the salt.”
But see now, I would feel rude replying that way, even if it is the blatant truth that the individual ought to know intuitively after all these years. Then I wonder, would this relation continually ask a businessman, “So Joe, how’s your business doing—are you selling?”
[pullquote]It confounds me that those of us who work in creative careers are somehow seen as less “serious” than those in institutionalized jobs. We’re all making a living, paying the bills, following our passions, and leaving a mark on the world, right? So why, why, why do so many feel they are free to say rather uncouth things to writers?[/pullquote]
It confounds me that those of us who work in creative careers are somehow seen as less “serious” than those in institutionalized jobs. We’re all making a living, paying the bills, following our passions, and leaving a mark on the world, right? So why, why, why do so many feel they are free to say rather uncouth things to writers? The frustration appears to be shared.
This summer the hashtag #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter went viral on Twitter. From celebrity authors to ghosting freelancers and everyone in between, Writers gave the world some friendly etiquette advice. I’ve gotten such a kick out of reading these. They’re so very Writer Unboxed that I asked a few friends for their experiences to add to the list. We can all learn from these, laugh together, and for some, take notes. [Read more…]