In my series of posts on what not to say to an author, # 4 is, You should write a book about it. This comment references some idea that the speaker has about a story: something that has happened to them or that they’ve read that they think is hilariously funny, or engaging, or spooky, or whatever.
I am not talking about people who share a story and then sort of laughingly say, “you could write a book about it,” although I certainly hear that several times a week now that I’m an author.
No, I’m talking about people who have come across something they are convinced will be the next bestseller. It’s the variant of post # 1-“I’m thinking of writing a book” where someone daydreams about writing a book but hasn’t actually put pen to paper. Here, the person doesn’t want to write the book at all: they want you to.
They can be quite determined about it, too. I had one person sit down beside me, and hand me a pen and a piece of paper, saying, “Write this down. I’m not kidding.”
I was invited to a book club recently. Although the point of my being there was to discuss my book, one member spent a good half hour describing an event she wanted me to write about. From the looks on the faces around me, no one found it quite as fascinating as she did. This went on until another book club member finally interjected and redirected the conversation, but it was a topic the person returned to several more times, telling me not only who the characters should be but where I should set the story.
There’s not much an author can do in these circumstances except nod politely, wait until they’re finished, or hope someone changes the subject. Because whatever story has captured their imagination, it’s not really ours to tell. No author I know suffers from a shortage of ideas for books, only a shortage of time.