The first is the much-bemoaned 'Where do you get your ideas from?' which I actually do find interesting when it's connected to a particular book. The second, whose agonies are less often discussed, is -
How long does it take to write a book?
What do you, dear colleagues, reply when you're asked that one? I always launch into the same, ten-minute-long, painstaking explanation: that writing a book isn't a linear process; that ideas might swirl for years in your head, sometimes disappearing for months at a time, and then coming back from their holiday with a new tan and interesting new things to say; that writing itself is a difficult process to measure exactly, because you might start by binge-writing 30 pages, abandon the project for a year, start again, stop, delete, start again, etc.; that you never (well, at least I never) spend whole days writing in neatly-packaged Pomodoro units that can be conveniently added up; that even after the manuscript is delivered, editing may take many more months, but then again it's not a full-time thing; that proofs, blurbs, cover checks, associated blog posts and signings are... kind of part of the writing process too; that the length of the book itself isn't a reliable indicator of how long it took, nor the quantity of illustrations; that some scenes may be written very fast and others really slowly; that much time is spent deleting, and then how do you count that time? Pieces of string, etc.
Oh the look of boredom on people's faces every time I deliver that answer. Oh the number of swallowed yawns, of glances at the clock. It's almost like their question has mutated into another: for goodness' sake, woman!!! how long can you drag an answer about how long it takes to write a book???
Once, for a change, I tried being Gradgrindingly factual about it. When I was asked "How long does it take to write a book?", I just replied: "A year and a half."
Some of the children said: "Wow."
I said, "Does that sound like a lot, or not much?"
They shrugged, and, looking like the matter interested them extremely little anyway, they said, "I dunno."
Clementine Beauvais writes in French and English. She blogs here about children's literature and academia.