I've discovered some new-to-me ways to deal with questions I don't want to answer. This may or may not be useful information for anyone else, but it works for me.
There are a only few people who know that I am working on a novel. Unfortunately, two of those people are neighbours of mine. One is a very sweet teacher who happened to notice me at a writers' workshop a couple of years ago and asks about my work every time she sees me. The second person is a retired man who only asks me about my progress after he has imbibed fortifying liquids in large quantities. When they ask 'how's it going?" I used to mumble and stumble through an explanation. I've given that up and have decided use - "can't say" or "no comment." I think the no comment thing could add mystery so I'll try that one out.
The other pesky question I encounter with some frequency is "why not?" As in: Why not buy a subscription to this magazine for only $15.95? Why not donate to this charity again? Why not have your carpets cleaned? - We'll give you a discount. I used to reply "no thanks" but they would keep on talking unless I hung up. So, now I take a different approach. When the "why not" question arises, I say, "I'm broke." I'm happy to report that this works quite well. I've even received apologies, though I assume they are only offered by callers who are new at telemarketing. I wonder if it works because it's different, or because hardly anyone wants to use those words. So far, no one has asked me what I mean by broke, but I do have a personal definition.
Broke means that by the end of the month I have spent all the money received in the previous month, and sometimes a bit more. It's not a technically correct definition, but so what.
And speaking of 'so what,' that might be a handy phrase to use when I visit my always grumpy friend this afternoon. He tends to raise minor complaints to major heights. I likely won't do it, but I know I will be tempted.