Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Supportive Spouses

There was an article in the latest edition of the RWA's Romance Writers Report called "The Arms That Hold You Up" by Laurie Wood. Basically, she's talking about people who support your efforts to write and be a writer.

I didn't even think about being a writer until I was home with two small children, but when I saw a brochure about a writing course and thought about taking it, my husband made no objections. It wasn't cheap, and we had to make arrangements with the neighbors for the kiddies, but otherwise, it was "You go, girl."

He bought our first computer for me to write. Now, granted, he works for a computer company, but this was in the olden days, pre-internet, so there really wasn't a lot of call for a computer in our house beyond my writing efforts.

I went to my first RWA conference the year I started writing. I was making no money and it wasn't cheap, but he was fine with that. After all, he'd go away with his buddies from time to time. That was the first time I'd been away from the hubby and kiddies since our youngest was born. I slept like a log. Never, at any subsequent conference, have I slept like that.

He'd take the kiddies to the park so I could write. He never complained if the house wasn't spotless (still doesn't and it still isn't).

I never, ever felt I had to "get his permission" for any writing-related expense, and I'm sure if he'd ever objected to my writing, his reasons would have been only financial. He never begrudged me the time.

For all these reasons, and more, I consider my husband very supportive of my writing.

So there was one thing in that article that utterly flummoxed me, because I don't think a negative answer to that question would mean your husband isn't supportive of your writing. It was, "Does your spouse have no interest in reading your manuscript?"

My husband has never, ever read one of books in manuscript form. Never.

I couldn't even remember if he'd actually read any of my finished books. I had to go and ask him. I thought maybe my first, fifteen years ago. But otherwise? I had no idea.

He said, "Sure. Two or three, one just last year."

Oh, yes. I think it was HERS TO DESIRE. I seem to recall he liked it.

But here's the thing: those would be the only romance novels he's ever read. He's not a romance reader, and he's not my target audience, so...why would I want him to read my work? In fact, I don't, particularly. It'd be like asking me to take a look at his work. Ack! No thanks! The numbers...oh, the numbers! My eyes, they cross!

So if a husband doesn't particularly care to read his romance-writing wife's manuscript? I don't think that makes him unsupportive. I think that just makes him a guy who doesn't want to read romance, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Of course, if he also calls romance a load of you-know-what and whines like an overgrown baby because she's taking an hour or two to write instead of ironing his underwear, that's another kettle of carp.


Leah Braemel said...

I've been writing for years, but it was my hubby and my sons who said I would regret it if I didn't try to send something out. I wouldn't have joined the TRW if it wasn't for their encouragement because I was quite happily writing 'in the closet.'

I've asked my husband if he would read my stuff but he's hesitant -- 1) he's not a romance reader, just like your hubby, and 2) he worries that it might cause friction between us if he doesn't like what I've written. It's an honest concern and I'd prefer that he be honest about it rather than smiling weakly and faking enthusiasm.

My eldest son will read my work and rip it apart without compunction but his suggestions are good ones so I grit my teeth and listen.

And despite my hubby earning half of what he did last year, he's encouraging me to go to the RWA conference in Dallas this year. What a sweetie! So I definitely can say he falls into the Supportive Spouses category. Now I just hope I can sell a manuscript, or even be asked for one, to justify their faith in me. That's the toughest part of it all.

Anonymous said...

I just want to offer you a cyber hug, Leah. I'm not far from Dallas, myself, and have just switched to fiction (with lots of rather unsupportive people puzzled around me), but hubby actually helps me a lot with my work. Best wishes for selling a manuscript!

And filler chapters! UGH! I hate reading them, and I detest writing them, and they always get an ax!

Michelle Styles said...

The thought of my v supportive dh reading my books fills me with horror.

It is SO much easier that he doesn't read them.

Romance is not his thing. I would really worry about his opinion, but as he is not my target audience...if you see what I mean.

There is much more to being supportive than reading my books...

Kimber said...

This is so interesting. I just wrote a business blog post (on a guest blog) about this very same topic (will go live this weekend). Do fans have to be users (readers)?

I gave the NFL cheerleader example. NFL cheerleaders spend the entire game with their backs to the field. Yep, they don't watch. Yet ask any football player and he will say that having cheerleaders DO make a difference (home team advantage, anyone?). Heck, professional cheerleaders are even paid the dollars.

My hubby doesn't read any of my writing. Not my fiction nor my blog posts (he read one of my posts that got featured in The Washington Post and said it hurt his head). He's not my target audience for either (and in the 14 years I've known him, he's only read one book...The Da Vinci Code).