Friday, June 17, 2011

Ten Hazards For Spouses Married To Writers

I could write a book about the hazards of living with me due to my writing habit, but I decided to keep it simple. This is for my wonderful husband and all he has to tolerate.

1. Everything interesting and sometimes not so interesting will be used in future work no matter how much your writer promises not to commit this offense. She can’t help herself.

2. Writers tend to do strange things when they encounter disappointment. Be prepared for anything.

(Early in the process of shopping “Ghost On Black Mountain” a book deal with a very small publisher fell through. I smiled, nodded, and kept my act together. All were amazed at how well I took the news. I came home and painted one of the walls in my writing room purple. The wall is still purple to remind me had that disappointment not come along, I wouldn’t be with a major publisher now.)

3. Do not trust your writer’s listening skills. She will look as if she is totally engaged in the dinner conversation with guests when really she is working out a problem in her new book.

4. Never be surprised to find your spouse crying her eyes out over a character that has died in one of her books. Whatever you do, please refrain from pointing out she has complete control of her story. She will throw something at you. If you do rile her buy a gift card to a bookstore. That always works.

5. Do all the cooking when she is in the middle of a big project. If this isn’t possible, be prepared for scorched pans, sandwiches, and the same menu five nights in a row.

(I once left cooking oil to heat to just the right temperature. One paragraph. The next thing I knew the smoke detector screeched. My kitchen and part of my dining room was full of dark smoke. Lucky enough a fire did not start, but I ruined a very good pan and had to explain why all the doors and windows were open in twenty degree weather. Two weeks later—same project—I put macaroni on to cook and eased away to work a few extra minutes. Now one would think I could do this. It was safe enough. The next thing I knew another pan went in the garbage. I won’t tell the other incidences.)

6. Be prepared to listen. Your writer will talk about her characters as if they were her children. You may not under any circumstances insult or question their behavior. Nod, smile, and laugh when appropriate.

7. Vacations are worked around research for her newest novel.

8. Your writer will carry a notebook and pen with her at all times. She will think nothing of stopping in the middle of the mall to write down a conversation she overheard.

9. Writers are a nosey lot. She wants all the details of an argument, accident, or car crash. You never know when she might have a scene that calls for such.

10. And finally just love your writer. She can’t help her passion for language and story. Give her the time and tools she needs to satisfy the voices rattling in her head. Your writer has the best of intentions even when she forgets whether your child is taking the bus home from school or needs a ride.  

(I won’t tell that story.)

ANN HITE has written short stories, personal essays, and book reviews for numerous publications and anthologies. Ghost on Black Mountain, her first novel, is inspired by stories handed down through her family and will be released by Gallery Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) on September 13, 2011. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, daughter, and her laptop.


Laura Marcella said...

This is wonderful, Ann! I'm printing it out and sharing it with my husband. I can just see him now nodding at each point! We've been friends since we were children, which is as long as I've wanted to be a writer, so luckily for me he sort-of already knew what he was getting himself into. :)

Nicole Seitz said...

This is so right on. This should be the ten commandments for writer spouses. Bet you could make a gazillion with t-shirts at writer's events :)

Sherry Gloag said...

ROFL, Ann! I haven't quite managed to fill the place with smoke, but am guilty of having to rescue a few scorched pans before the were 'discovered'.
Thanks for a great laugh. 'Many a truth is spoken in jest.'

CrowSister said...

Love these...especially 'listening skills' and burned pans. Too many times I've had to shake my head, admit I haven't heard a thing and ask someone to repeat! Pan score: 3 'D
Great post, Ann!