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Support Your Local Writer

November 17, 2009

A couple of days ago Paul’s wife wrote a very good—and somewhat cheeky—post about living with a writer during NaNoWriMo. It was my fiancée’s intent to follow up today with an equally irreverent look at living with an struggling author. Alas…the best laid plans and all that. Instead after our H1N1 vaccinations yesterday, she’s not feeling very good (neither am I, but she feels worse) so I’ve let her off the hook for now. Truth be told she’s a bit more anxious to write her post that I am to let her—because I’m quite certain she plans to take a few digs at me.

Paul’s wife danced around the edges of a critical element to a writer’s success. Support.

As a writer I have plenty of friends who are writers. And as most of them have spouses—or potential spouses—I have plenty of examples to see how relationships can sour the act of writing, and vice versa.

I’ve actually experienced the conflict from both sides of the coin. My ex-wife was very supportive of my writing habit. As long as it didn’t take time away from her. She held the odd assumption that I could limit my writing to the hours when we were apart. My fiancée on the other hand is more than accepting that writing takes time, and as it is something I love, allowing me some time to indulge is a healthy thing.

But in all the writing-afflicted relationships I have observed close up I have noticed a common problem that seems to crop up and cause no end of trouble:

I’m not sure why, but many—if not most—non-writers assume that a writer isn’t a “success” unless they have not only been published, but have managed to make a living at their art. I’ve never understood this. I think most writers would tell you—no matter how reluctantly—that their writing is a hobby that they wish could be more. But why do others assume that if we don’t make it big that we’ve failed?

If your wife liked to paint, would you constantly remind her that she wasn’t hanging in the Louvre? If your son enjoyed tinkering with his car, would you be disappointed if he didn’t wind up in someone’s pit crew?

And this is where Paul’s wife’s post touched a nerve. You can tell she gets it. She understands that Paul has a love of writing, and she knows that to keep him happy sometimes she just has to live with the fact that he goes off the deep end for a while. And if he can manage to be supportive of that, so much the better for their long-term outlook.

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Wished all of his NaNoWriMo-afflicted friends continued good luck and solid word counts.
  1. November 17, 2009 2:44 am

    Well this touched a raw nerve!

    My partner is suportive – in the best almost non-begrudging way – but I still get, “When you write your best seller…” I’m his retirement plan! And I get that too.

    As a fulltime, stay at home Mum, my “day job” still has to be juggled with writing. It is not like I’m sitting around between sessions at the type writer with a box of chocolates watching day-time TV.

    A few months ago, while my mother-in-law was staying she had the adacity to tell me “this writing thing” might be OK for single people who don’t have a child and a house to look after… and left her comment there. That was after she’d already asked me “how much I got paid” to do all this stuff. It hurts quite a bit because she’s an avid reader. How does she think the books she reads came into existence. They were once juggling many things… some continue to do so.

    But I digress somewhat… your strength as a writer is only as sure as the strength of the support you get. And this is one reason why I love my writing friends so much – they get it!

  2. November 17, 2009 4:13 am

    Great topic for discussion. So many times, I don’t think our significant others “get it.” My work is done online. My writing is done online. I also blog which is done online. I market my online stores through online channels.

    My husband, though very supportive of my writing, is not as supportive when I am on the computer. He thinks I am on the computer “all day,” but in reality, I pop in only once in a while during the day as I am too busy taking care of the younger ones of our kids, and so I have to use the time when he is home (in the evening) to get most of my work and writing done. When he sees me, I do spend a lot of time online, but for a large part of the day, he is not home and does not see what I am doing. So it annoys me a great deal when he frequently accuses me of being on the computer “all the time.”

    Sorry, I’m rambling a bit.

  3. November 17, 2009 6:15 am

    well – the challenge has been set.. Will have to get cracking on my interview with my partner and his thoughts on my strange affliction with writing!

    I know my partner – like Julia – ‘gets it’ – I write because I have to – whilst there is no expectation that I will be an overnight millionaire or ‘success’ , he is supportive and encouraging.

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