Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Things you never say to a writer

by Jorn Lier Horst, Norway

A journalist called me some time ago and wondered what one should never say to a writer. The background was the hashtag #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter started on Twitter by author Joanne Harris. The journalist called reaching around to Norwegian authors and wondered what irritated us. I had to admit that I was not completely comfortable when someone started a conversation by telling "I do not read books, but ..."

And, like the writer Lars Saabye Christensen answered: "What are you doing?" is a foolish thing to ask a writer. It's obvious, we're writing.

And like my friend Tom Egeland answered: "Where do you get your ideas from?" is not a annoying questions, but utterly impossible to answer. Like "Where does a composer get his music from?" or "Where can an illustrator find his strokes?" To explain creativity is like trying to describe in words why a symphony is beautiful.

So, can you tell me: What is the most annoying thing you have been asked? And where do you get your ideas from? And why is Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 beautiful?

Jørn Lier Horst


  1. Two questions:
    1) Have you READ all of these books?
    2) Why do you KEEP all of these books?

    I always want to ask them:
    1) Have you been breathing EVERY minute of your life?
    2) Why do you KEEP breathing?

  2. I have a great idea for a book. It's about s drug dealer on Bermuda and he .......

  3. I've got a terrific idea for a book, all you have to do is write it.

  4. Q. Lived here all your life?
    A. Not yet.

  5. "You're a writer? Oh, I don't read."
    "We can teach you ..."

    "Oh, I'd write a book ... if I just had the time."
    (Because, of course, all it takes to write a book is time ...)

    "I only read one book a year, when I go on holiday, and I download it from one of those torrent sites ..."
    (So, you hardly ever read, but when you do you steal the book.)

    "Am I likely to have read anything you've written?"
    (Hang on while I telepathically inventory every book you've ever read ...)

    "Hey, watch what you say or she'll put you in her book!"
    (No, you have to say something interesting first ...)

    Sadly, I've had all these and more ...

  6. Haha) I'm an artist. Just guess what people can ask me. Of course their first question is:" Can you draw my portrait?" Always, every time, the same one question!!!

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