Matthew Munson: 12 questions for writers – and the answers I would like to give

Matthew and the life of an author

Writing is the sort of profession where people seem to have certain perceptions of your profession. I’m not entirely sure where it comes from, but it’s awfully depressing; it’s so often imagined that writers sit on a chaise longue all day and eat grapes whilst dictating novels to hunky or beautiful young secretaries. Well, I do like grapes, at any rate.

Here are a few comments that writers have heard from time to time in their lives, and they’re all incredibly depressing. I’ve also imagined my responses below each one that I would scream in the confines of my own head but, ideally, would bellow out to the questioners.

  • “So, what do you do all day, anyway?”

Eat chocolate and stare out the window despairingly whenever my gorgeous assistant isn’t clacking away at the typewriter; isn’t that what all writers do?

  • “Oh, you’re a writer? My sister’s friend’s brother’s gardener’s barber writes a little bit. I’m sure he’d give you some advice if you wanted.”

Really, would he? Oh, that’s fabulous, I can’t wait.

  •  “I wish I had the time to write.”

Well, if you have the desire to write, you’d find the time. There’s 24 hours to choose from; take your pick.

  •  “What do you do with all that spare time you must have?”

Mostly try and suppress my rising blood pressure from the anger.

  •  “Can I have a free copy of your book?”

Sure, why not! I don’t need the money really; I’m independently wealthy from my collection of 17th century ancient crockery.

  •  “You should make me into a character.”

Because you’re so interesting? Let’s put it this way. A writer writes about people they love. If I don’t love you, you are not becoming your own character.

  • I have a great idea for a book. I should tell you, then you can write it, and we can split the income from it in half.

No. That’s not how my career works – nor my creativity.

  •  “Want to edit something for me?”

Would you ask an accountant to do your taxes for free?

  • “I never read.”

You and I have nothing in common. Go away.

  •  “Have you made your millions yet?”

None of your business – but no, and I probably never will. Most authors won’t.

  •  “Where do you get your ideas from?”

The only answer to that question is, “How do you make them stop? I’ve currently got enough story ideas to keep me published in new material until 2067. I don’t have the time to write everything that I’ve got queuing in my head!”

  •  “Writing’s easy, isn’t it? It must be a wonderful treat to have a job like it!!!”

You know, I can almost hear the exclamations marks at that end of that sentence, and you should be grateful that I’m not currently stabbing you through the eye with a pencil for suggesting it.