Some time ago, when I was bemoaning my lack of blog fodder, Darc suggested I write a post about what it’s like being a writer’s wife. I’ve been stewing on this for a while now, and I’m not sure I have an answer. I can tell you I feel like I belong to an exclusive club, you know, like Tabitha King. But I don’t know what I do exactly that helps him write. The storytelling, the creativity, that’s all his own God-given talent and has nothing to do with me. Not really. I enable him as best I can, and encourage him when he seems discouraged … but I don’t think I really do anything. And as I write this I realize that it really has nothing to do with being married to a writer, but is simply about being married. It wouldn’t matter if he was a writer, an artist, a cop, a lawyer, or a CEO. I support him – that’s what I do.
A long time ago I read an article in a magazine about an old married couple. They were asked what made their marriage work so well for so long. The old man offered that they always went to the opera every month. “Oh, you must love the opera,” the author said. “Oh no, I hate the opera,” replied the old man. The author was puzzled until the old man explained, “She loves the opera, and I love her, and I love the look on her face when she watches it.” I cried when I read it, because that’s the kind of marriage I wanted. It is enough to say my ex was not that kind of husband. That old man’s words struck a chord though.
For the record, I don’t hate writing. For a long time I wanted to be a writer, until I realized I lacked that nameless something that writer’s have. Good writing is an art. The best line I ever wrote was when I was around 15 or 16.
She was sitting on the bench when he saw her. He walked up to her and asked, “What’s your name?”
”Kandace, with a K,” she replied, “What’s yours?”
”Mike, with an M.”
See, I wasn’t kidding when I said I don’t have it. What I do have is a desire to encourage my husband, so I learn what I can about writing because this is something he loves, and loves to talk about. How can we have any kind of meaningful conversation if I know nothing of what he’s talking about? How can I give him feedback if I don’t know what he’s referring to when he asks me such things as, “Is this too much tell and not enough show? Is this too passive?” So I read all the writing books we have and learn what I can, so I can know enough to at least not sound like an idiot when we talk.
I am simply a sounding board. When he gets an idea, he’ll think out loud to me. I’m sure I’m a party-pooper sometimes because I’ll say things like, “Oh, that would never work.” Other times though, he hits a gold mine. If someone were to ask me, “Oh, my spouse wants to be a writer, what can I do to help them?” I can really only say: Listen. Don’t offer feedback unless asked, don’t interrupt when they’re thinking – because even though it might look like they’re just sitting there doing nothing, they’re writing in their head. Be supportive above all. Writers, like any artist, seem to be in need of lots of encouragement so don’t be stingy. Read everything they write and when they ask for your opinion, give it honestly but with love. If they really want to be a better writer, they will only get there with helpful – truthful – feedback. If they’re not ready or willing to hear what’s wrong with their work, they’re not ready to really be a writer. And that’s okay too, because we all have different talents and if writing’s not it – like in my case – something else will be. Better to let go of something you’re not suited to, than to keep pushing against your own grain and trying to force it. Build your strengths, and your weaknesses will follow.
I’ll leave you with mine and Darc’s latest theme song. 😀
(In case the video doesn’t load – Evil Love)