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“Oh, you should write about (insert random event)…”

March 2, 2010 4 comments

Recently Bethany made a comment on one of my posts highlighting how this hated phrase (Oh, you should write about…) suggests that we writers are often confused with stenographers.  Oh, how very true.  Does this happen to anyone else?

Here’s the scenario:

You’re in a bar, enjoying your very first delicious gin&tonic (Tanqueray with cucumber, which came only after a fifteen-minute discussion with the bartender, where you had to explain that you know it’s Hendrick’s that’s supposed to be served with cucumber, but you really, really like Tanqueray with cucumber and couldn’t they drop a slice of cucumber into your drink instead of a lime wedge since you can see the sliced cucumber and it’s sitting right next to the sliced lime), when you mention very vaguely (because God knows you want to avoid the “Oh, I’m thinking of writing a book too…” debacle) that you are a writer.

Big mistake.

“Oh, really?”  comes the response.  “You should write about (insert random event that means absolutely nothing to anyone beyond the parties involved).”

Huh.

Well, gee, thanks for the suggestion.  Since I am a writer, I MUST be all out of ideas.  I’ll get right on that.  I’ll just forget about that half a manuscript I’m desperately trying to finish while holding a full-time day job.  Clearly I should be writing a play-by-play of my day instead.

My gin&tonic is now gone.  Another discussion with the bartender ensues.

Halfway through this second drink I am usually able to casually say, “Oh, that’s a good idea.  Maybe I will.”

And maybe I actually will write about how pee rained from the office ceiling today (okay, that’s a bad example, as that was pretty funny), but chances are that it’s gonna be a lot lower on my priority list than that half-manuscript I’ve been toiling over for the last two years.

And sometimes it ends there, and I have a third drink, and all is well.  Other times, however, I get this:

“It’d make a great novel.”

Pause.

MASSIVE HEAD EXPLOSION!!!

No, it would NOT make a great novel.  It has to be fiction to be a novel.  And it can’t be fiction because it ACTUALLY HAPPENED.  It wasn’t even a good story.  I HAVE an idea for a great novel.  I’ve spent TWO YEARS trying to turn said idea into a great novel.  I have enough ideas.  What I need is to produce a great novel.  Believe me, you do NOT want to have a discussion about the difficulties of producing a great novel.  Or even a good-enough-to-be-published novel.

Lets discuss the merits of cucumber as a garnish for a Tanqueray&Tonic instead.

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