Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Behind Every Strong Writer...

... is a strong partner. I watched The Daily Show yesterday (don't ask me what day it was from, it was TiVoed) and Jon Stewart interviewed John Grisham. I found it interesting that he said his wife is an important influence over his work.

Apparently she'll let him know if a manuscript isn't going to work. He said that once she threw a manuscript -- all 500 pages -- at him, because she thought it wasn't good. It reminded me of Stephen King's stories of how important his wife's viewpoints have been to his writing. (She fished the draft of Carrie out of the trashcan when he thought it was bad -- and that ended up being his break into fame.)

It's nice to think of a life when you have someone who backs you in your writing endeavors. I've had a few boyfriends who were supportive of my work, but also a few who really could have cared less. Some were supportive but not necessarily interested in actually reading anything I wrote. I hope that one day I have a significant other who takes a real interest in it.

For the time being, though, I do have a few friends who are great about reading my drafts. My roommate's also a great person to bounce them off of.

Write on,



Blogger Hebdomeros said...

I forget the name of the author, but within the last couple of years a mystery author decided to retire after his wife died. Although published under his name, they both wrote and he said he couldn't keep writing without her. I'm glad King and Grisham are giving their wives some mentions.

I've never really had a relationship with someone who read and edited my work, but it's definitely important to me for my S.O. to have some sort of creative bent. If they can't appreciate my interests, the relationship can only go so far.

But then I've always like artsy girls, even before I started writing.

1:46 PM  
Blogger LadyLitBlitzin said...

That's really sad, about that author!

I agree with you about dating creative types -- that's very important because then they understand the creative urge, the artistic temperament, the times one may need to be alone and shut in somewhere. In addition to artsier types, I have dated a few non-creative people, and they can get very offended if you say something like, "I really want to write tonight" -- I have experienced people who have gotten offended over stuff like that. I guess they thought it was the equivalent of saying, "I have to wash my hair tonight" or something, their response being, "But can't you do that anytime?" Uh... no.

1:55 PM  
Blogger Broadsheet said...

Definitely - and thanks for the commnets on my blog BTW. Dan Brown (Da Vinci Code) says the same thing about his wife, and her art historian influence is clearly dominant in his work. Although the support is nice - it's meaningless unless it's honest. They have to be willing to tell you when it sucks too, and not let it go when you say "honey, does this make my ass look fat?". They need to be able to say (lovingly) Yes - yes as a matter of fact it does.

1:59 PM  
Blogger LadyLitBlitzin said...

Hey Linda -- no problem! Your blog is interesting, I'm glad I have found it!

Indeed, that's a very good point -- there are some people who definitely have the "yes man" approach to reading a friend's stories. That's no good... I would much prefer that a friend throw a manuscript at me and say "you could do better" than just say it's good when it's not. (Or tell me, "this story makes your ass look fat," hee hee!)

I also suspect I have a few friends who actually don't want to read my work because they're afraid they'll think it sucks and don't want to have to give their honest opinion. That's another interesting aspect of the friend feedback loop that might make a blog post for another day. I spend a lot of time internally whining about that sort of thing.

2:11 PM  
Blogger girlzoot said...

I've no idea what a supportive SO would be like, but I can tell you what a non-supportive one is like. Never did like my work, thought wrote in the wrong genre, that my ideas were too convulted and un-interesting.

Sadly it can be more damaging than even when you hate your own work.

3:32 PM  
Blogger LadyLitBlitzin said...

Girlzoot, that IS tough. That's the time when you just have to believe in yourself (which is also what we writers must face in the face of rejections from publishing houses on a regular basis) -- although I know, sometimes our own self-deprecation can get in the way.

Yeah, I'd rather have lack of interest in my work than a non-supportive partner.

11:21 PM  
Blogger Maktaaq said...

My friends must dread reading my stuff too because I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve and I look absolutely forlorn when people say things about my story that are true and that I know that they are right in their assessment.

Recently a work acquaintance asked me to look over her children's play. While I am honoured that she would ask me (she's been a little aloof with me & I've been overfriendly to compensate), I worry that I may have to be very diplomatic.

I've also been in the position where I had to edit someone's work and realized that there was no way in hell I could ever equal this god. I felt embarrassed that I should even be editting someone who is my superior at writing. There was absolutely nothing I could suggest except correcting a few spelling mistakes. I guess I had accepted her work thinking she was a bimbo. (Talk about bad judgments!)

I heard about King's wife, who also writes, but I wonder why she isn't as well-known as her husband.

1:02 AM  
Blogger Hebdomeros said...

I thought of one other literary couple. Anne Rice and her husband Stan Rice. Stan's a very odd poet with stuff so sexually charged and bizarre he makes his wife's books seem plain. I think he also paints, but I'm not sure. In interview I remember she said Lestat was an exaggerated version of her husband. I don't know if they edit one another's work, but I imagine they probably do.

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps for some writers, the flipside of the title to this post could be Graham Greene's aphorism that novelists (in particular) make "bad husbands and unstable lovers."

Struggling with a novel at the moment, I glimpse what he meant. It's hard to live with both a huge creative project and another person at the same time. Something's gotta give.

DTG xxoo
Pussy Talk

3:25 PM  
Blogger LadyLitBlitzin said...

Hi Maktaaq -- maybe that's what some of my friends are worried about -- me getting forlorn! It's quite possible. As for looking at other people's work, I hear you. One of my friends is a rather amazing writer... to the point he kind of freaks me out. I'll read his stuff and get all intimidated... then thinking, wow, my own stuff's not too deep. Ah well, I guess there's always going to be a little of that when one compares oneself to someone else... without seeing the strengths of our own work...

Hebdomeros, I had heard of Stan Rice and forgot of them as an example. I don't think I've ever actually seen his poetry though... so it makes Anne Rice's S&M books look tame?? I know I remember her mentioning him as an influence and a supportive one at that.

Anonymous, what a great quote! There's definitely the other side of the coin... the absentee partner working on the Big Novel. I think again it really helps for two people to be totally on the same page... misunderstandings can happen, I'm sure. Perhaps that's why Grisham's wife threw the manuscript. Hee. Seriously, good luck with your novel!

11:16 PM  
Blogger maikopunk said...

There is a good thread in the comments debating whether a creative/non-creative partner makes a better support. Is it better to have an in-house person who can suggest edits and comment on the work, or is it enough to have someone who thinks your work is brilliant even on bad days and just supports the the writing habit(and tolerates hogging the computer).
I like to think my creative interests have influenced my partner - he still likes videogames and sports, but he's also recently gotten into photography and even reads novels sometimes.
Some couples might find the creative partnership works, but the conflict and competition can tear them apart too. I think it was Jada Pinkett-Smith (wife of tasty Will Smith) who said when asked what the secret of their happy marriage was that "there can only be one superstar in the family."
And whether we have creative partners or not, I think we need to know for ourselves what kind of criticism we can handle before opening the door to them as a first reader.

12:19 PM  
Blogger LadyLitBlitzin said...

Hi maikopunk, yeah, that's yet ANOTHER good point. I guess in some relationships -- depending on the people involved -- yeah, only one ego is sufficient. I suppose I've always fantasized about having this creative partner but then again, how would it be if he were utterly jealous of any success I have, or vice versa? That would suck.

The perfect world is one of support and not letting ego get in the way... the perfect world and the perfect relationship, and of course these things don't exist. I'm sure some couples can strike a balance. (And of course, as for the Will Smith example, think of the celebrity marriages that have broken up, Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, etc...)

11:54 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home