Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Way We Are

Living with a writer ain't easy. Most of the time when I'm sitting at the dinner table, I'm not really there. I'm in make-believe land discovering something new about my characters or asking my brain, which is a blank slate, the directions around the latest road block in my story. We get cranky when things don't go our way and suddenly run out of a room in the middle of a conversation to jot down an idea or a turn of phrase.

Writers who love their spouses speak of them as if they're demi-gods because frankly it takes superhuman powers of patience to put with up one of us. Stephen King made his wife, Tabitha stand up during his speech for the National Book Award and accept her share of the kudos. When they were still living in a trailer, she rescued the manuscript of Carrie from the trash. When Stephen King was the biggest thing in publishing, she then rescued him out of the abyss of drug and alcohol addiction.

If Una Jeffers, the wife of Robinson Jeffers, didn't hear his pen scratching, she would thump the ceiling with the top of her broom handle. He built a tower for her that overlooks Carmel beach and held her in his arms when she died.

The late Stan Rice inspired his wife to create Lestat. Nora Roberts' husband willingly leaves the house so she can write in complete seclusion. Suzanne Brockman's husband brought coffee and doughnuts to her and her readers at RWA New York.

My husband has read every single screenplay and book that I've written. When I handed him the manuscript of Hot Tamara, the poor man cried. He looked at me and said, "You did it, babe. This is it."

Ryan is still at my side, bugging the crap out of me when he senses that I'm slacking off. He gives me his honest opinion even though I always break my promise not to get mad at him. He gets angry for me when I get a critical review or a rejection. Yesterday, he told me it was a matter of "when" not "if" I'd become a best-seller. I shouldn't have been surprised because on our first date, he told me he wanted to be the first person to get a signed copy of my first published book.

To him and all the spouses who are crazy enough to marry and stay married to writers, I dedicate this song.


Claire said...

That was a really sweet post, Mary! I am married to a really ambitious man who's convinced he's come up with The Next Big Thing - I see both of us in your caricatures! Wise words...

Anonymous said...

That was such a lovely post. I don't mind saying I actually had tears in my eyes while reading it, because I so identified with what you were saying. Must show it to my husband.

Unknown said...

Thanks so much! I sent it to my husband yesterday and he told me it made his day. Unfortunately, he didn't win his tennis game but I think he knew how much he means to me.

Have a good one!


Ewoh Nairb said...

You mentioned one of my favorite writers ever - Robinson Jeffers. His love for his wife was amazing and I know the story of the broom handle on the ceiling too. Great post and totally true about what a writers spouse goes through. I saw Erica's post about your blog and had to visit.

Unknown said...

Hi Ewoh: Thanks for stopping by! Have you been to Tor House in Carmel? We took a tour five, maybe six years ago and it was very inspirational.


Ewoh Nairb said...

Hi Mary: yes I have been to Tor House, probably 6 or 7 times. One of the last times I was there I got to co-docent the tour. My masters thesis would have been on Robinson Jeffers... had I actually finished it and graduated.

One of my favorite spots in that area is Point Lobos State Park. It has so many amazing places to just sit and enjoy the view. If you have not made it there I would highly recommend it. Also Pfifer Beach just a few miles south is incredible as well.

I saw on this blog and your web site that you are a livin la vida OC. Good to know there are other writers in the area.