Support Your Local Writer
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.
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.