Yes, we get it ALL THE TIME.
I’ve been a writer in some fashion for about 25 years or so (I’ll be 38 in about a week). If I had to estimate, I would say that I began telling people that I’ve wanted to write books since about the age of 18.
For starters, I want to say that, at least as far as I’m concerned, writing isn’t something I brag about. Yes, I’m much more comfortable telling people that I am a writer than I once was, but I know it is not a common love or even the most exciting. Even today, half the time I tell people I’m a writer, I expect them to just change the subject.
However, for those who do not, many often quickly suggest that we write a book/screenplay about their lives. I add screenplay to this because I do that as well and once I revealed that to others, the reaction was about the same.
On one hand, it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, I suppose you’re expressing somewhat of an interest in what we like to do.
Then again, some would say that’s a bit of a stretch.
On the other hand, it may have much less to do with our love of writing than it does with a person thinking his or her story should be written into a book or a screenplay.
Here is why we as writers have grown tired of this.
First, we are writers. Let me say that again. We ARE writers. We’re not “trying” to be writers. We’re there already. That means, we have quite a few ideas in our heads already, along with quite a few projects either in the works or completed.
Second, we “should” write a book about your life? Really? And why “should” we? Because you think your life warrants an entire book to be written? I can’t tell you how many times a person who got out of a 2 1/2-month relationship feels that warrants an entire book to be written (and yes, this is after getting details of what all had taken place). Some stories are obviously much more elaborate. Does everyone have a story worth telling? Sure. But when you ask, nay…demand…that we write a book or a screenplay about your life as if we don’t have enough going on already, my response to that is…TAKE A NUMBER behind the other hundred people who have done the same thing.
Third, do you realize how often your story has been told already? I never want to write stories off because everyone may have something different to add, but I’ve had several conversations with people where I’m looking for something that tells me this story is different than the many others that have been told and I get next to nothing. In other words…a bad breakup. Someone cheated. Someone else was the father. I’m sure there could be many deeper stories in there, but what makes those stories different from the many others than have been told along these lines? Don’t misunderstand that to mean that what happened with you isn’t important. But when you decide that you want to bombard a writer by suggesting we write and entire book or screenplay about this, not only, again, have other people done the same, but what you’re giving us simply isn’t book material. No…everything doesn’t need to be made into a book or will be the next great Lifetime movie. Sorry.
Fourth, you do realize there is more to writing a book than to simply hear your side of things, right? Oh, you thought this book would be written painting you in the best light? Sorry again…then again, not really…but before I decide to write anything, I want to hear EVERYTHING.
Wait…so people actually want books and screenplays written on nothing more than their side of the story? Say it ain’t so!
The problem with this is that so much is often left out, and unless I just fill in the blanks with whatever, the story ends up being told inaccurately and IT WILL SHOW. For example, when a person talks about wanting a book written about a bad breakup, of course neither side did anything wrong. Yet the breakup happened. So, each side would tell the story that makes them look the best or like the victim. The issue this presents is that it makes it clear for our readers that the story will be one-sided, which is something I prefer not to do. I’m not sure about other writers, but for this particular point, that doesn’t even matter. When you approach writers, understand that we do a lot more to prepare for writing a book or screenplay than just taking a list of everything you did wonderfully as everyone else did horribly.
Fifth, some of you simply are not as important as you may think you are. Not only has nothing actually happened in your life that warrants anything close to a book or screenplay being written about it, but you may figure that your everyday life is enough. I’ve talked to many people who felt that their lives were just that big a deal and that was all that was needed. Again, there is a process. A LOT goes into writing something. Much more than non-writers realize.
Last, but not least, how are you compensating us as writers to write your story? Oh wait…you thought we would just do it for free?
For every writer out there, writing started as a hobby. Yes, some like to pretend we came out of the womb on a mission, but writing was nothing but a hobby…in the beginning. However, NOW…we ARE on a mission. And before spending a ton of time writing, it needs to be worth our while. That doesn’t mean we’re expecting to be paid a royalty ransom, but respect our time. That’s all we ask. Don’t figure that you’re doing us a favor by telling us to write a book about your life, because I promise you…you’re not. Keep in mind that most of us don’t even call ourselves writers until we have something in the works or stuff completed already. I can tell you that off the top of my head, I have no less than ten ideas in mind of what I would like to commit to writing about. So at the moment and probably over the next few years…I’m good.
I KNOW my fellow writers have more to add to this list, so if you’re out there, please let me know. At least for me, I know I’m not the most important person in the world, nor even the best writer of all time. But it just gets tiring when every new person who comes along and thinks that only their story is worth telling, says this as though no one else has come along and done that before them, or they think that I am just SO bored as a writer that their story will be IT.
Not even close.
Like I said above…take a number.