If you're a single girl of child-bearing age, the dreaded question is likely to be, "So, are you dating anyone yet?" The cringe-worthy question that makes you want to scream, "It's none of your damn business!" You probably want to wear a sign that notifies the world that asking is not necessary; if and when that time arrives, you will make sure they all know.
For an unpublished writer, the question becomes, "How's the book thing going?"
Admittedly, if you are in my close circle of friends and family, I've spent countless hours boring you with every bump on the emotional rollercoaster, so you are not the person asking this question.
It's casual acquaintances, mostly, who ask it in a friendly way, knowing that it's important to me, that it's cool I wrote a book, feeling like they're bonding with me by asking. One word: Don't.
It's not that I don't appreciate your interest, it's just that responding causes me pain. Where do I start? That I'm chewing my fingernails, waiting for the rejections to come, that I live with the constant fear of not being good enough, that I should move on to the next big thing but am paralyzed that the next one won't be any good either? What part of that do you want to know? You don't.
So I smile and say, "Good," because you're asking the equivalent of "How are you?" and it doesn't matter if I'm dying on the inside, it's not really worthwhile to go down that road with an acquaintance.
So if you know an unpublished author, wait for him or her to bring up the book. If you're in the inner circle, it won't take long. If you're not, you'll be doing that person a favor by asking about something--anything--else instead.