A Writer & Her Support System

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“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
–Mark Twain

I know a lot of writers who have amazingly supportive partners. I know a lot who don’t.

I can imagine doing this job without a partner at *all* (although my husband, Ted, is unbelievably good at plotting, so I get a hitch in my get-along at the idea of actually *having* to!), but I can barely imagine doing it with an active detractor in my life. It’s not an easy way to make a living, and, like any other kind of art, it requires a fair amount of nurturing and faith.

My husband has committed acts of faith repeatedly in supporting me as a writer. I got laid off from my web design job at the end of 2004, an entire year before we were planning for me to quit and pursue full-time writing. He encouraged me to go ahead and write full-time, even though we knew it was a financial risk. He has (correctly, which is very interesting to me) predicted various sales to publishers long before I had any belief they would go through. He encouraged me to pursue the comic book that’s debuting next month. He’s never once said, “You know, going back to a day job might be wise,” even when it would have been; in fact, he says he takes pride in the fact that I’m a full-time writer, regardless of it being a hard haul for both of us at times.

It’s not actually practical to dispose of one’s partner if that person isn’t supportive of your writing career, but I very much hope people who don’t have that support at home can find it elsewhere. Writing groups, either online or off, or other family, or friends, whether they write or not. It just seems so critical to me. It’s a hard and lonely enough row to hoe without doing it without a cheerleader or two.

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4 comments to A Writer & Her Support System

  • Catie, I totally agree. My hubby has been with me through thick and thin. I could *not* do this job without him.

    I once met a romance writer at a writer’s conference who stood open-mouthed at the sight of my husband at my side. She couldn’t believe that he was with me. (This was at a romance conference, but that’s a whole nother blog. He was the only straight guy at a conference with over 1,000 female writers. The boy had a blast!) She teared up and said, “My husband has never even been to a signing. Never read one of my books. He treats my writing like it’s a hobby, not my life’s passion.” I predicted (to myself) that her marriage wouldn’t last. He had to be a very small person (per Twain.)
    Thanks for a great post. Maybe some people need to print it out and tape it to the fridge.
    Faith

  • I couldn’t agree more – my husband believed I could sell my book even when I was ready to give up and jump off the Cliff of Despondency.

    I run into people at cons and conferences who tell me their families laugh at their ambitions. I just can’t imagine how miserable that must be.

  • Yeah, without Nancy I wouldn’t have any career at all. I was still an unhappy academic waiting for the job listings to come out when she said, “You know you’ve been talking about writing a novel since the day I met you. Why don’t you spend the summer working on a book?” And she’s been supporting me ever since.

  • Absolutely spot on! My ex couldn’t give a toss about my writing. My current live-in boyfriend (7 yrs together) is amazingly supportive. He makes sure I have nothing to bother me on “write nights” (every Wed. when I come home, turn off the phone, & sit at the computer to do nothing but write ’til I can’t keep my eyes open). He often says he wishes he could find work that would allow me to quit my job so that I could write full-time. He always reads my work and we discuss it afterwards. He’s very proud of my writing and works hard to nourish it and help it grow; I am so very blessed to have him in my life (not just for that, of course – he’s simply a wonderful mate).

    Another important network is family. My mother has been my biggest fan and greatest cheerleader since childhood. As a child, she read to us and helped nurture a passionate love of books (my siblings share the same.) She pushed me to expand my writing talents, and kept me supplied with portable typewriters and plenty of paper to keep banging out the ideas that were always in my head.

    Even as an adult, she continues to enjoy my work and is always encouraging me to do more and go further – even supplying me with possible plots, storylines, and characters. Her support and unquestioning belief in my ability has been a constant source of encouragement and drive in my life as a writer.

    A mother or sibling can also be a caring, constant support system for an artist.