For the most part, when writers get asked questions, they are related to the books, the characters, and that sort of thing. It’s not very often that I get asked questions that leave me feeling uncomfortable or offended, but sometimes it does happen.
As some of these have happening fairly recently, either in email, on twitter, blogs, or in person via signings. There are some questions that writers get asked that just shouldn’t be asked. Not unless you’re a very close, personal friend. Really, some questions? Just don’t ask them.
Ask me about my sex life. I’m sorry, it’s none of your business.
Yes. This happens. And while I try to polite to people, especially when it’s work related, this is something that pisses me off.
A lot of the time this question is phrased like… So…do you really do all the stuff you write about?
I tend to smirk and say, No. I haven’t killed anybody recently.
Those who don’t get the point and let it go and persist, No, that’s not what I mean…I mean the…well, you know…sex.
Okay, if you’re going to be so bold as to ask, stuttering and stammering about it is kind of foolish. As is giggling about it. And the answer still isn’t going to come.
My sex life isn’t anybody’s business. Period. Some writers might be perfectly fine discussing their sex lives. I’m not one of them and I’m pretty good about making my boundaries clear, and I’m not going to pushed or nagged or wheedled into discussing something I consider personal.
Ask me how much money I make.
There are a few limited instances where I have/will discuss this… with colleagues/friends. But unless somebody knows me really well, this isn’t a question you just toss out. Again…it’s rude.
Ask me for medical advice.
Yes, I am a nurse. But I’m not qualified to give medical advice. That’s doctor territory and unless I was your doctor? I’m not legally able. But I’m not a doctor. And if I was…well, I wouldn’t likely be your doctor. And it makes me really uncomfortable when people ask me if they should do this, or that, or take this or that…guys, I don’t know you personally and telling what you should or shouldn’t do isn’t something I’m qualified to do. Call your doctor, don’t ask somebody online who claims to be a nurse. Yes, I am a nurse, but hell, anybody can say they are. Nurses can’t give medical advice, though. It’s actually something that can get us in lots and lots of trouble. So…please. Do. Not. Ask.
Ask me to read your book.
I can’t help you. Really I can’t. I suck at craft advice so if you’re needing pointers, I’m not a good person to ask.
And I’m not going to point anybody to my agent or editor. I’m just not. This isn’t to be rude, but part of this business is learning the ropes…and you don’t learn the ropes by taking shortcuts. You need to learn those ropes because otherwise, if you do find an agent, and if you do get published, but you don’t understand the business, you’ll get eaten alive–so it really does serve you better not to look for shortcuts.