by George Rosche
Greetings. Did I make it awkward already? Confound it… see, Janine asked me to write a blog post on “what it’s like to be married to a writer.” I ain’t got what you’d call a gifting for the written word. I crushed college entrance exams on math and science, but the language arts – not my forte. Needless to say, I’m underqualified for this blog post, but regardless – you’re about to see the world through the eyes of the spouse of a writer. Unsolicited advice coming your way to avoid common pitfalls for writer spouses.
Advice #1 – It’s your fault.
Have you ever come home and your spouse is mad at you for no reason? I mean, like, really – NO REASON? I usually start with some form of reassuring physical touch, and a “honey, what’s wrong?” Recently, that olive branch was met with a “DON’T TOUCH ME.” The usual suspects are that I forgot a birthday, an anniversary date, didn’t put the dishes away… but, I’ve now discovered an even harder problem to solve. This particular projection of guilt was because I am, well, a man, and the antagonist male character in her story was SUCH A JERK when she was writing that day. I know, I know – clearly my fault. “I’m sorry, babe.” I’ll try to be less… male?
Advice #2 – You have 2 ears and 1 mouth. Just use your ears.
One of my other favorites is when Janine asks me to help storyboard. I get all excited like the staff writers at Greenway Publishing during Elf. She starts just like Miles Finch most of the time. “I got one idea that I’m especially psyched out of my mind about…”
Janine then launches into the middle of a plot (to which I have no backstory, no character development, and no context). She then proceeds to “ask” (intentionally in quotes) me what said character should do or what plot would make the most sense. This “ask” takes about 5 minutes of description that provides no useful context to me as I try to piece together what has happened up to this point in her head.
After the “ask,” comes an approximate 0.3 second pause, after which she proceeds to “tell” me the 3 options. These three (always threes with Janine…) options are then described in copious detail with nary a breath over another 5 minutes or so… followed by an approximate 0.4 second pause.
The conclusion of this 10+ minute storyboard results in frustration. Why? It was my inability to answer in a cumulative 0.7 seconds of open airspace. It concludes with, “Nevermind. I know what I need to do.”
Glad I could help!
Advice #3 – Helpdesk
Janine is great about immersing herself into story, developing characters, interweaving plots, coming up with creative backstories… it’s almost like she has 87 tabs open in the browser in her brain. And in her actual browser. And 19 other applications open. Wait – you can delete emails when you’re done reading them?? “George – my computer isn’t working!!!!” This is the part where I have to ask the question I’ve asked no fewer than 700 times in our marriage… “Sweetheart – when was the last time you rebooted your computer?” On the low end, the answer is usually a week, with the high-end answer usually resulting in a diatribe about how much is going on and “there’s no time” to reboot. As a writer’s partner, it’s just part of the unwritten job description – you are the helpdesk.
It is my distinct honor and privilege to be married to a writer. The creativity and energy that flows from my wife is inspiring and contagious. It does come, however, with a couple of booby traps that I hope you can avoid if you can read between the lines.
PS – she continues to refuse to use me as a cover model, despite my incessant flexing in the bathroom mirror. I haven’t figured out how to resolve that oversight on her part yet, but perhaps I’ll try with a wig tonight in hopes of a closer comparison to Fabio? Must be the hair.