Guest Post: Being Married to a Writer

Since my patient and wonderful wife puts up with my hours at the keyboard, and my mood swings between excitement and hatred of my work, it seems only fair to allow her time at the “mic”. This is her post, uncensored by me. Ulp!


When I was getting to know the man who would become my husband, I was favorably impressed when he told me that “writing” was one of his hobbies and that he wished he could be a “writer” fulltime. I was so relieved it wasn’t football or golf. There would be no endless wasted Sunday afternoons spent glued to ESPN, me bored out of my mind and him dropping Fritos and empty beer cans all over the clean floor. In fact, it seemed to me that this was a sign; after all, I was an avid reader and bibliophile – this could be a match made in Heaven. It was a great match that led to a fabulous wedding but be careful what you wish for…

Over the course of our relationship I have often spent much of the weekend doing things on my own while my husband is writing. I am the one who drags all the trash bins up from the curb on Thursday night and feeds the cats because he is at his “Writers group.” I have had endless conversations with him about traditional publishing versus self publishing; I know practically nothing about either side of the argument. The rest of our conversations have involved the rise of e-books: Second Coming or Armageddon?  The house could be on fire and I might not get him away from his writing if he was at a critical juncture, before the roof fell in on him.

My name is Tamara and I am a Writer’s widow.

I owe my writer husband a large debt of gratitude, since he spent the last two years going to the movies alone or not at all, hiding out in another part of the house so I could study, cooking for himself, and reading my Master’s thesis about twenty times as I was preparing to defend. So, I shouldn’t have any complaints – but I do have some suggestions for other “WW’s” out there.

One key to being a successful Writers widow, or widower as the case may be, is to acquire interests that do not involve your writing spouse. Personally, I like to garden, buy shoes and do DIY stuff around the house. Having a spouse that devotes a good portion of his free time to writing is particularly advantageous when you are trying to sneak five pairs of new shoes into the house without being noticed. Unfortunately, it also means you have to dig your own holes when planting trees in the garden.

Another key to surviving life with a writer is to remember that every writer wants to be a New York Times bestseller, and win the Pulitzer or the Nobel Prize for literature, and have a lucrative movie deal, but you really shouldn’t spend the money before you have actually earned it. Harry Potter and The Forsyte Saga have already been written by others. You will need to be supportive during the times when your writer spouse is having mood swings because he doubts his ability to string four words together coherently. You will also need to be diplomatic if his writing isn’t to your taste and you will have to be the voice of reason (and sanity) all the time when discussing writing in general, and his writing in particular. You will read his stories often and you need to be a good editor.

Fast forward several years, I am on a ladder in the bathroom painting the wall next to the toilet and my writer husband is in the office working on his second novel. I am hot and my back hurts when he asks if I want to take a break for lunch. “Sorry, already ate. Besides I need to finish this today,” I reply, thinking it would have been finished last weekend if I had some extra help.

However, I admire the single minded tenacity that my writer husband possesses because it serves him well in other aspects of his life. I also recognize that I possess the same quality when I am pursuing a goal – in fact, my ability to focus exclusively on a single task for an extended period of time is what got me through Graduate school. I understand that sometimes a person has to be completely selfish to achieve something important and that the people close to them can be a help or a hindrance.

Another writer’s widow that I am acquainted with has considered becoming a writer as well. Frankly, I see several potential flaws with her plan. For example, who will feed the dog and the children in a household with two writers? What if she becomes a famous writer, will she still be expected to do the laundry and bring up the trash bins? Worse, if he becomes a famous writer, he will have justification for spending all of his free time in the office with the door shut. And if you both write you will have to pay an editor since neither of you will have time to read each other’s stuff. It is simply not a good idea. (I can already envision the many posts that will list writer couples who made it work for them but I bet it requires more stamina than the half-yearly shoe sale at Nordstrom.)

The journey of life does not require husband and wife to always be on the same page, but they should be reading the same book.

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