Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Non-Writing Spouses

From YA Highway:

If you're here reading this blog, odds are high that writing is a major part of your life. For many of us, writing is a thing we do whenever possible, something that makes us happy, that we love, that is a massive, important part of our lives.

But writing might not be something that matters to the people we marry (or date). Every couple has at least some interests that don't overlap, and that's okay. It's good, really. You need things that are just for you, whether it's writing or something else. But sometimes it can be weird when your spouse just cannot fathom how writing could possibly be fun, and when you want them to be able to be part of this thing that matters so much to you. As a person whose spouse is completely uninterested in writing--and in fiction in general--I have navigated these waters, so I thought that I would share some things I have learned.

1. It's okay that they don't care about writing--or even reading. Really, it is. Unless they have an actual interest, there's no reason to try to force them to understand the wonder that is writing. They have their own hobbies, and it doesn't lessen their quality as a partner if they don't care about active sentences and the beauty of a carefully crafted book.

2. You don't have to tell them everything about your writing, but you should tell them something. I don't remember exactly when I told my husband that writing was something I did a lot, but I know it was fairly early in our relationship. I couldn't exactly hide the dozens of notebooks that I have always had in storage bins, drawers, and all over the floor. But the point is, even if they can't relate to it, your significant other should know about the things that you love, especially a hobby as time consuming and (often) emotionally trying as writing.

3. They will listen if you need them to. How much you talk to your significant other about your writing, your attempts at getting an agent, at getting an editor, etc. depends on you. Personally I don't try super hard to explain all of my WIPs to my husband, but when I do talk about one, he listens. He also listens when I explain about agents and editors and advances and genres and all sorts of other things that he completely does not understand despite his best efforts. Sort of like how I listen when he talks about why this car is better than that car even though I could not care less how fast a car can go from zero to sixty. If writing isn't among your spouse's interests, it's probably courteous not to talk their ear off about it hour after hour, day after day, but they care about you (I hope) and they'll listen and they'll try to understand.

4. But you probably need good writer friends to truly understand your angst. My husband definitely tries. He is proud of me for my writing-related successes and he is outraged on my behalf when something goes wrong. And that's wonderful because I absolutely cannot imagine the horror of spending my life with someone who thought my writing was so pointless he didn't care whether I succeeded--or actively thought it was a waste of time and tried to discourage it*. But even with his support, having wonderful writer friends has been an important part of my journey personally, and I think that it should be for everyone. It really makes a world of difference (and takes some pressure off your poor spouse!)

5. Above all, they still want you to be successful. Which is hugely important. Writing is hard. The publishing industry is hard. You don't need it to be tougher than it already is.

So for those others of you who have spouses (or even family and friends) uninterested in writing, what have your experiences been like? Have you found them supportive/confused/enthusiastic? Do they like hearing you talk about it? Do they let you force YA novels on them, even if they are hesitant at first? (Hey, my uninterested-in-fiction husband turned out to be a huge Hunger Game fan. You never know!)

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