08 July 2011

Free Advice Friday: Help! My spouse is writing novels!

Interesting Dear Prudence question this week:
Q. How Much Hobby Sharing Can Spouses Expect From One Another?: As strictly a hobby, I write fictional novels in the evenings after my daughter goes to bed. I am a stay-at-home mom more by circumstance than by desire, though I have loved being there for my daughter. This activity has given me a chance to step into a fictional world for a few hours a night and something to do as my husband is fooling with his computer modeling, music, various artistic pursuits, or video games for the evenings after a day of work for him. I try to be supportive of his hobbies. Is it too much for me to ask for him to read what I write? The only friend I have I feel comfortable enough to read what I write is visually impaired and does most of her reading through audio books. He just never gets around to it when I do ask. I gave him an early draft of a novel I was messing around with and have since finished two sequels to it. I know they will never go farther than taking up memory space on my laptop hard drive, but I still want it to be the best I can make it, and to me that includes having someone I love and trust read it.
A: In her recent memoir, Joyce Carol Oates reveals her late husband didn't read her novels. Of course, she wrote a novel a day, so maybe it was too much to ask. If you even harbor secret dreams of someone besides your spouse reading your work, I think you need to get braver and join a writing circle, or take a class in which others are forced to read your work. Your husband may be the most sensitive, brilliant reader you'd ever encounter and he's unkindly refusing to be your Lionel Trilling. Or he may be thinking, "I love her, but if I have to read one more word about a sexy werewolf, I'm going to kill myself." Don't make reading your trilogy a test of your marriage.

Dang, First Mr. Joyce Carol Oates, that is harsh. (RIP.)

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

I'm completely on Mr. Oates's side here.

If he reads it, he'll be asked what he thinks of it. And that's just asking for trouble. Mr. Oates will either say something hurtful, or, if he doesn't, the author will always suspect that he has harsh criticisms but is too kind to share them.

No: I think it's better for the author to join a writing group and have some strictly writing friends. Then she'll know that their comments are always about her writing and not hidden metaphors about who unloads the dishwasher, and that way if someone does say something hurtful to her, she can go home to her husband, and he can pat her head and say, "There, there."