This happens more often since we started the Localvore Lit bookstall (Think Global; Read Local) at the farmers' and artists' market on Saturdays. I smile and nod non-commitally and tell them they should write that story themselves. "Everybody has a story; you're the only one who can write yours." After all, that is the whole point of Localvore Lit--to promote writing in the general populace.
You would think this encouragement would send them either running for a pencil or running for the hills. Nothing of the kind. "Oh, I don't have time," they insist as if I have been sitting around eating chocolates, picking my toes (probably with the same hand) and praying for an idea to come along. "You should write this. It would be a sure-fire bestseller. This is what people *really* want to read," (with my own books sitting right there on the display).
"It's not the kind of thing I write," I explain. "I do science-fiction and fantasy (pointing pointedly at my own books), and anyway, I have too many of my own projects lined up. I don't have room in my schedule."
"But I've led a fascinating life. All my friends tell me I should write a book," (probably hoping to shut the raconteur up about his or her fascinatingly boring life).
At this point, the only escape is to claim explosive diarrhea and dash for the restroom.
I established the diarrhea excuse last spring after a (non)customer spent two hours lingering at the book stall telling me about how he had the original idea for the Dexter series by Jeff Lindsey, but it was stolen from him, and the thief sold the idea to Jeff Lindsey.
Apparently, my now best friend had on his computer an idea for a serial killer who kills serial killers, and somebody stole the computer. He explained that this idea was so radically original that nobody else could possibly have come up with it on his own even though he knew that Lindsey had written the first Dexter book before the computer was stolen. He then proceeded to explain his bizarre misconceptions about evolution, which is when the alleged diarrhea finally laid me low.
A reasonable person would wonder why I didn't cut him off after the first forty-five minutes. The problem is that I apparently have a super-power which is the ability to listen to people. Ad nauseum. And to generally find them genuinely interesting, though not necessarily in the way they intend. Like many super-powers, mine has its dark side which is that I sometimes go into a kind of trance in which I have no idea how to cut people off and gently let them know that I have other things to do besides listen to their life story.
After this incident, and after my friends had finished rolling around on the floor laughing their asses off and generally wetting themselves (rofltaogwt), they gave me several tips that *didn't* involve sharing TMI regarding my digestive functions, so I have high hopes that I will be able to keep the next episode to under half an hour.
If this anecdote has a moral, it is probably that you should never let your computer get stolen because Jeff Lindsey is still out there, and he is hungry for ideas.