I get that a lot. I’d say on average, about once a week someone comes up with a great idea for a novel that I should write.
OK, first let’s do the arithmetic (I never use the popular expression: let’s do the math. How insulting to real math. If it doesn’t involve at least Algebra, you can’t say “Let’s do the math.” Or if you do, I’m going to make fun of you). Let’s say I average 2 books a year. That’s probably a little optimistic, but it makes the arithmetic easier. And I get 52 suggestions a year of something I “just have to write.” If I write for another 10 years, that’s 500 books left unwritten.
Not only that, for 10 years I NEVER get to pick my own book.
Wait, it gets worse. Nobody except for my insightful writing partner SusanH, EVER suggest that I “just have to write” a book that isn’t serious. OK, that’s not fair (not to mention a lot of negatives in one sentence). Several people have suggested that one of my characters just HAS to have their own story. And by and large, none of those books would be serious. In fact, that’s SusanH’s suggestion: that Oswald, the snarky, resourceful little squire in The Adventures of Sir Kay has to have his own story. But she wants it to be a romance.
But last weeks encounter is more typical. My little miniature Schnauzer of almost 13 years, Destiny, died last week. Yeah, it sucks when the family pet dies. But she just decided that she’d had enough, and quit eating and drinking Tuesday, and on Thursday afternoon died peacefully. So I respect her decision, same way I would a person’s, and it’s OK.
On Sunday, somebody told me, “She was such a sweet little dog. You just have to write her story into your next novel.”
Um. Have you ever actually read what I write? It may not fall under the official category of “humor,” but there’s a comic thread throughout. Somehow I don’t see writing my dead pet’s story as conducive to a comic thread.
“Oh, but you’d be great at it.”
That’s invariably the follow-up line. I’d be great at it.
“Why is that?” I always wonder and occasionally ask if I’m feeling cranky. I’ve never been remotely successful at writing a serious novel. The last time I crashed and burned on a book’s false start, it was because the novel was becoming so serious it stopped being fun to write. That was back between Strange Bedfellows and Avalon, S.C. Fortunately, I didn’t have a lot of time in it. Three or four weeks, maybe. Still, that’s three or four weeks of my writing life gone.
So here’s my new stance. I going to either say, “Thanks, I’ll get right on that,” and then promptly forget about it and assume they will too.
I’m going to come back with, “No, you should write that book. Sounds just like you. You’d be great at it. Hey, NaNoWriMo is coming up soon (well, November is less than a year away, so that qualifies, right?). I’ll remind you come October what it is that you’ll be writing about.”
I haven’t actually tried that approach yet. But I’m doing it next time. Promise.