Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Being a Famous Writer's Spouse

My husband gets it all the time, especially when there has just been an article about me in the local news. Last week the paper covered my experience at Printers' Row in Chicago, so when he went golfing on Sunday, he got it again: "What's it like to be married to a famous writer?"
He takes it pretty well, always joking that he has to make an appointment if he wants to talk to me. Actually, I'm probably more accessible now than ever before in our 40-plus years of marriage. He can always find me in the successful writer's spot, Butt In The Chair, Honey! (Get the acronym?)
What is probably hard for him is listening to my two favorite, repetitive topics: what do I do about this (or that) plot problem, and why is it so difficult to get noticed in this business?
The problem is that I'm not famous, despite what the home-town crowd thinks. Hubby knows, from years of observation, how un-famous most writers are, toiling away in semi-obscurity for very little money with only occasional glimmers of encouragement from the world. He knows that I work as many or more hours now as I did when I taught school. Being a writer means I don't know when quitting time is, as he's witnessed many times when I edit right through dinner or scarf my breakfast in order to get back to work on the current MS.
He's learned to schlep books to signings and then stand back until it's time to schlep (most of) those same books back to the car. He's become a source of information on everything from boating terms to guns to life in Vietnam. He repeatedly encouraged me during the long years of waiting for that first book deal, and he is very wise about when to say nothing--which is a lot of the time.
Writers' spouses must want to say "Give it up" sometimes. They must want to point out that only a crazy person would work so hard for so little remuneration. They might even want to do an intervention: "You are way over the edge with this writing thing, honey."
The good ones say nothing.
What my husband says to the guys on the golf course? I couldn't tell you. But this "famous" writer is glad her spouse is such a good sport about living with a writer, a person who can not NOT write. If I ever do become famous, he'll deserve half the limelight.
But he'll probably be golfing.

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