People think that an author’s life…actually we’ll call it a career, is one of the easiest and most enjoyable a person can have. It is. Most of the time. Think about it, health care workers battle to keep people alive in hospitals. Teachers try not to strangle middle schoolers that back talk. Engineers keep our city from falling apart. Military and police fight to keep the peace, (you get the idea.) While all that’s going on, authors are sitting at home on their comfy couches thinking up the next big book to movie hit. It’s a great life and l absolutely love my home office. However, there are some key things that every spouse should know about the life of a writer. Mostly so they don’t get killed while they sleep or wind up as a character in the book that gets brutally eviscerated.
Tip #1. You have a stressful job. We get that. Don’t come home stressed out and tell us that we’ve sat at home all day on our lazy arses writing. That we should get back out in the real world and try a “real” job. I find it prudent to point out that most writers do a ton of research for their books. Some of which requires travel and countless hours of note taking. Many writers have already tried the real world. We prefer creating fictitious worlds for those that want to escape the “real world.”
Tip #2. Be kind to your author spouse when they need to use you as a soundboard. Even if they trick you into a three hour “book walk” through the woods to make sure they have enough time for a proper Q&A. Trust me, do the Q&A. Who knows, your ideas might find their way onto the pages where they will be eternally emblazoned. At best, you’ll get mentioned in the acknowledgements.
Tip #3. We will give you the finger…often. Get your minds out of the gutter people. I mean the index finger. It’s the one that’s usually accompanied by a glare when we get interrupted mid-thought. You need to tell us something. Got it. Unless Timmy’s fallen down the well again or you need to go to the hospital, whatever you need to tell us can wait five more minutes. Respect the finger.
Tip #4. Keep the texting to a minimum. Three-five texts a day is plenty. You’re out at a job saving the world remember? How do you have time to text us? Really. We love you, adore you, can’t wait to see your face when you walk through the door from a hard day at work…but we are working too.
Tip #5. We will keep strange hours. If we get up at 2:00am and don’t come back to bed until midnight tomorrow evening, go with it. It happens. If we are in a good flow, God save your soul if you get in the middle of it. Like I said, if you’re not bleeding…hospital rule, learn that one and you’ll be good.
Tip#6. Because of the strange hours we will keep, we need constant caffeine and sugar. The most savvy of spouses figure out which brand and combination is best without being taught. They’ve also mastered the slip in and slip out. Drop off the plate of cookies and cup of tea, then slowly, silently back away. Words are not necessary. Do not poke the bear.
Tip #7. We will talk to ourselves…occasionally we will answer back. This is normal. We do not need psychiatric drugs.
Tip #8 Do not, under any circumstances touch the computer or notes. Not even if you’ve ruptured an artery and have bled all over the pages. We will read through the droplets. Trust me if you accidentally delete something, turn the page on the notes we were looking at so now we are lost…You will not be able to run far enough, fast enough, or hide quickly enough. We will find you. It won’t be pretty.
Tip# 9. This is the most important one. Support us. Writing is hard work. Often we have quit our jobs in pursuit of a dream…one that has the very likely possibility of going absolutely nowhere. It’s scary for us too. The worst that can happen is we give it a shot for a year or two, it doesn’t work and we embrace the inevitability of entering the real world again. For the lucky few (and mostly these are the writers that have the undying support and love from their spouses) will become the few, the proud, the PUBLISHED.