In praise of the woman
At times I can behave like an awful caricature of a writer; moody, obsessive, arrogant, self-destructive, petulant, unhinged.
And throughout “up” periods of manic creativity, and “down” periods when every idea seems flawed, or I feel listless and like things aren’t worth trying, there is one friend I can always rely on to stand by me.
Stephen King describes an “ideal reader”. The person you write for, the person you imagine reacting to your words. Would my ideal reader laugh at this joke? Be excited by this action sequence? Terrified by this scary moment?
My ideal reader puts up with my mood swings and erratic behaviour. She slips her bare feet under my legs to keep warm when I only start writing my Sunday column late on a Saturday night as she sleeps softly in front of the television.
She puts up with my bad habit of reading in bed until the early hours, even though the bedside light stops her getting a good night’s sleep. She’s suggested the topic for at least half of the columns I’ve written over two and a half years. She spots my spelling mistakes, but is always full of praise when I’ve surprised and delighted her with a story. Even if that story freaks her out.
She even features in one of my stories. Maria, from The Long Watch is a librarian, academic and scientist. Fiercely independent, highly intelligent, playful with a wry sense of humour, protective of the man she loves; I’m surprised she hasn’t seen the resemblance before!
So to an ideal reader, ideal partner, and ideal wife, I say thank you. Because sometimes writers don’t give enough credit to those who keep them sane.