You know, I really don't mind hearing about someone's reading preferences. In fact, I love the conversations about what you read and what you don't, what you look for in a book and what you hate. But this is the conversation I hate.
"What do you do for your job?"
"Really? What do you write?"
"I love books! What kind of books do you write?"
"Oh, I don't read fiction. I just don't like fiction. I like to read things that edify and educate me, so I prefer nonfiction."
So why exactly were you asking me? And why do you feel it's necessary to make sure I know that you don't read fiction? And where on earth did you get the idea that fiction doesn't or can't educate and edify? If you don't want to read fiction, that's fine. I really don't care. But don't hammer the nail in. After all, if you really want to know about my writing, then just ask about writing. If you just want to hear yourself talk about your interests, then talk about your interests. Don't pretend to be interested in my writing and then turn it around to why what you prefer is really better. Thank you very much.
2) "You should put me in your book!"
Okay. This isn't something that bugs as much as I just don't know how to respond. "Ummm. No." I really appreciate the support this shows. The person wants to be in your book because they want to be able to say, "That's me!" when at last the book is published. It's encouraging to talk to someone who believes your book will get published. But when they seriously want to be in your book, what do you say? "I'd love to, but since I've already finished two drafts and have a very carefully plotted story and carefully created characters. There just isn't anyplace for you." This seems like a harsh way to respond to a person's excitement. After all, you can't just toss aside people who are truly excited for you, especially when there are so many nay-sayers and "I don't read fiction" folks around.
3) "You need to self publish. It's really only the way to go."
I have nothing against self publishing. I have several friends who have self published, and I'm very happy for them. I have their books. They're good books. But I'd like to at least try the traditional publishing route. I may fail miserably, but I want to give it a go. Please don't try to crush those hopes and dreams. Or, as I'd like to say, "Fooey on you." That's just my mature, adult side talking.
4) "Agents won't look at you unless you've been previously published. That's why you self publish or epublish."
This is closely related to #3. I've read a lot about agencies and publishers, and while they certainly aren't against self publishing, they also don't recognize it as being the same as traditional publishing. If you've self published or epublished, that's awesome, but agencies and publishers don't necessarily care; when it comes to publishing experience, they want to know that someone else has invested in you, not that you were willing to upload a book to Amazon.com. Again, if you want to go that route, go for it, and don't let anyone talk you out of it. Follow your dreams. But don't try to make other people follow the path you've chosen. And always do research. Lots of research.
5) "I have a story idea!"
Again, I love to talk about writing, and I love to hear ideas from other people. Sometimes, it seems that everyone has a story idea, and that, I think, makes the world a better place. As writers, we explore reality through fiction, we understand the importance of using fiction to convey truth. Our characters can overcome the obstacles at which we stumble, and they can make the choices we wish we'd made. So I love it when people have ideas. What bugs me is when someone thinks that I have one idea, just like they have one idea, and that makes our ideas equal. I may be relatively new to novel writing, but I've written four novels and have a list of about thirty ideas. I love that you have an idea, but please don't treat me like someone who has one, lonely idea and then will move on to some other hobby. I may never get published, but I will never stop writing, because I can't imagine life without writing. This isn't a fad or a phase. Let's talk writing, but please treat what I do with the same respect as you'd treat someone else. My husband, for example, is a software guy. I don't act like we have the same job because I blog. Yes, both have to do with computers, and yes, there's a little coding in the blog, but I am not a software creator. If you have one idea, that's wonderful (and I really do mean that), but it isn't the same as devoting your life to writing.
I've babbled enough. It might have something to do with the five cups of coffee I drank in the span of about an hour and half. So what are your pet peeves? What do people say to you (writing related things) that makes you stop and think, "They didn't just say that, did they?" Or how many cups of coffee have you had today? Are your hands shaking, too? Please pick any number of questions and leave your answers below. Feel free to add more writing related or coffee related questions.