Our critique group sat around my dining room table a week or so ago talking about this and that. The subject of our longsuffering spouses came up. You have to be a hero to be the husband or wife of a writer. You sign on for things you didn’t know you were signing on for, and it’s too late to back out. So you have to persevere, heroically. For instance:
- Your writer will wake up in the middle of the dark night, flip on the bedside lamp, and scribble furiously in the notebook s/he keeps in her/his bedside stand, muttering just enough to keep you awake until s/he’s finished. It’s highly possible s/he will also talk, tell jokes, laugh, or lecture in his/her sleep.
- When you are telling your writer something, suddenly the conversation will belong to him/her, and go off to places you had no idea you were talking about.
- You may be hauled off to the far reaches of the earth to do research, and expected to help.
- When you have arrived at the best part of a TV show, your writer will enter the room, glance at the TV, and ask sweetly, “Will you please listen to this?”, promptly sit down and start reading.
- You may learn things you never even cared to know about how to construct plot and characters.
- You may learn the exact way you should interrupt your writer, or not, when s/he is pecking away at the computer, or out in the garden gazing up at the sky. How were you supposed to know she was working out the inciting incident?
- You may find ways to do what you need to do when a group of writers are engaged in critiquing each other’s work right in the middle of your house.
- You may travel off to one writer’s conference after another, finding things to help with, or visiting museums or sports bars.
- You may be asked to answer questions you have no idea the answers to, such as, “what’s a better name for this character, Fred or Antoine?”
- You may spend more than you realized on ink, paper, stamps and travel.
- You do have leverage, however. On those research trips, you can squeeze in fishing, skiing, parasailing, or whatever you desire.
This certainly is not the sum and total of the life of a writing spouse, but at least you’re better prepared should you choose to wed one. If it’s too late, and you already spend your days with a writer, at least you know you’re not alone.