Thursday, September 29, 2005

A Word From My Better Half

During a quiet moment in our household, my wife put her hand on my shoulder, looked into my eyes, and said,

"I hated your last blog entry."

I asked why.

"I couldn't tell if you were bragging, or whining. Sounded like a little of both."

For those who don't know my wife, she's a wonderful person and I'm lucky to have her. It's doubtful I could have weathered a decade of rejection without her constant support. So when she says something, I take notice.

"My blog is all about the publishing industry" I told her. "I'm just showing how busy a professional writer is."

"Do you remember all those years you weren't published? How much you whined about that? Now you've got what you've always wanted, and you're still whining."

"I'm behind in everything, and I wanted to let people know why."

"See? You're whining again."

"Maybe I'll go whining to a divorce attorney."

"I won't divorce you until you make more money."

Such is love.

But I would like to use this instance to bring up a point never mentioned on blogs--the importance of a significant other.

Writers are perhaps more insecure than the general population. We need support networks. My primary support has been my wife. She's my first reader and editor, the one I talk to about every aspect of this business, the one whose opinion I value most. It can't be easy living with a writer--especially me. But my wife is always encouraging, always there for me, and always has a wonderful sense of humor about everything.

I often say during library speeches, "The single most important thing any of you can do to get published, is marry my wife."

It gets a laugh. But it's true.

So, go on. Go give that significant other a big hug and tell them how much they mean to you. They've felt every rejeciton, just as you have. They've been a part of every victory. In many ways, they're living the publishing life too.

Thanks, Maria!

13 comments:

Jim Winter said...

Same here. And it helps if you marry a writer, too.

Then again, I also let her get on my blog and shame and humiliate me.

But I've got a project out she's not doing the first read on, and it makes me nervous. If I didn't have another one coming back, I'd have left it to her.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Couldn't be more true, Joe. I don't let my wife read my drafts (I want her to hold the book in her hands when she reads it -- okay, the ARC), but she has always given me the support I need to carry on. We're lucky guys.

PJ Parrish said...

Amen brother. My husband has been key in each crucial juncture of my novelizing career. He:

1. Let me quit the day job so I could make us rich as a romance writer. ("Okay, I'll give you five years then you have to go back to work.")

2. Made me get back in the saddle after my romance publisher dropped me. ("Either start writing again or get a job.")

3. Suggested, when I tried to write my first mystery, that I team up with my sister. ("I'm on page 203 and there's nobody dead yet. Why don't you call your sister?")

4. Held my hand as they announced the Edgar. ("Your book was better. You want another glass of wine?")

5. And lastly, came to me the day after he retired and offered to be my Cabana Boy. ("What can I take off your hands so you can write more?")

I swear, the only reason I want to make money at this gig is so I can support him in the style to which he deserves to become accustomed.

Mark Terry said...

I hear ya, Joe. My wife doesn't read my drafts or, as far as I can tell, any of my work (except the checks. She does read those). But she has been supportive in the most important way--allowing me to do it. And when I decided to quit the day job and go fulltime, she said, "Okay." No fuss, no fight, no argument, just, "Okay."

She's waiting for me to hit it big so she can manage my money. Although she claims she'll still keep her day job. But she wants to retire early, so...

Best,
Mark Terry

Anonymous said...

Nice, Joe.

Well said, and very true.

David J. Montgomery said...

The only reason I'm able to be a writer is because of my wife. So if I pan your book, blame her.

Jim Michael Hansen said...

Hey, Joe--Obviously you're busy, so I did a little PR for you. Bloody Mary is listed on my website under a new section I added called "Recommended Reads." You're on a short list, in very good company. Regards, Jim.

Pat Mullan said...

Joe, that really struck a chord. I don't think I'd be in this game (even though it's on the bottom ladder at the moment) it it hadn't been for Jean (my wife, of course). When we came back from the States to live here in the west of Ireland I kept saying that I wanted to (thought I might ) write ... you know, we might people like that every day: probably fine writers but we'll never see anything from them. Well, she challenged me (and encouraged me) to 'nail my butt' to the chair and start writing ..

She's my first reader (she teaches English to the foreign students - mostly Spanish and Mexican at our local high school, Kylemore Abbey), my toughest critic, and the one that I steal my solitary, anti-social time from ..

Shouldn't we create a SHAMUS, a MACVAVITY, or SOMETHING for people like Maria and Jean ?

Now, see what you've done...you've gotten me all emotional!

Elaine Flinn said...

Good for you, Joe to acknowledge how much a supporting spouse is vital!

My wild Irishman (of forty-seven years)has been my guardian angel-prodding me on when I felt like a fraud, pumping me up when I was ready to throw in the towel, and...oh, yeah-he's a terrific cook too! He's my first reader, an honest critic-and gets my commas in the right place.

What more can a gal want? Ummm, maybe a little less garlic in the pesto?

Anonymous said...

Hey, I want a spouse, too!

Oh, that's right-- having a spouse requires work and a relationship and actually, um, relating to the opposite sex. Can't just go to K-Mart and grab one off the shelf.

Hey, Joe. How about some advice for writers sans spouses??

JA Konrath said...

"Hey, Joe. How about some advice for writers sans spouses??"

Join a writer's group, if you haven't already.

Many of my professional author buddies are in writer's groups. They offer the critiques, and the support, that all writers need to succeed.

Form a group at the local library or book store. If that proves impossible, check out www.bksp.org.

Failing that, there's always drugs and alcohol.

Jon The Crime Spree Guy said...

I went to hug my wife.
I had to wake her up to do it.
She asked why I wass hugging her.
I explained this blog entry.

She said "fucking Konrath" and went back to sleep grinning.

spyscribbler said...

Ohmigosh, you're so right. Truly, my DH makes it possible for me to write and do every other creative thing I do. I know I'd find a way if I were alone, but ... he is just SO amazing and supportive and helpful.

I tend to think he's the best DH in the world, but I guess I'm biased. And I guess that's why I picked him. :-)