Yesterday I totally enjoyed this post on ShelfPleasure by Holly Robinson: Pity the Poor Writer's Husband. I chuckled and decided I wanted to write up my version, and knew just the “male perspective” writer to ask to guest blog about his longsuffering (because anyone married to a writer is, by definition, longsuffering) wife's experience being married to him for 35 years. He graciously agreed. I have really enjoyed Tom's mysteries, and he and I are now swapping blurbs and manuscript beta reads, so check out his work at the links below. Thanks for rising to the challenge of “baring all” to share about what it's like to be married to a bestselling, award-winning mystery writer, Tom! It must be thrilling.
I was just asked a question by my wife. My answer?
“Hmmm, uh huh… whatever you want dear.” Suddenly a crumbled up piece of paper bounces off my head and snaps me out of a trance-like state.
“Are you listening to me?”
I wasn’t. Not because I was watching sports or caught up in the Internet or even lost in my favorite author’s latest release…. I was lost in the ever growing plot of a book I’m writing myself. That’s right, I’m a wife’s worst nightmare… I’m an author.
It’s hard to explain what happens when a new idea hooks a writer. Showering, shaving, deodorant and eating all become ignorable distractions. That’s a tough deal in our house because I do most of the cooking. Trash goes un-dumped, the lawns turn into an urban jungles and my wife feels, well, like I’m having an affair with my keyboard.
And I am. Who needs real sex when you’re writing a scene better than anything you’ve ever had? TV? Are you kidding? Who writes that trash? What I’m hammering out puts it all to shame. It’s genius, the next big thing and it will make me rich and famous! At least that’s what I’ve been telling her for 18 years.
“Are you going to spend any time with me?” My wife asks and I look at her. She sits on the couch, her hair hanging seductively over one eye and the lamplight reflecting off the curve of her face. That’s it! That’s the scene.
“One minute,” I say and write what I see, how she feels and what might happen next. What happens next? Well, she walks up, spins my chair around and sits in my lap.
“You know what today is?” she asks with a smile.
“Uh, it’s a week before I promised my new manuscript to my agent?”
“No.” She smiles wide. “Today is my birthday. Did you know that?”
My mind runs amok. Is this true? If it is, what a great plot idea! No, it’s a month away. She’s trying to trick me. “It’s not your birthday.”
“You’re right, it’s eleven months since you forgot it last year because you were close to finishing your last novel.”
Oh, yeah, and I promised it would never happen again. I also promised to get a real job, take her to Europe and spoil her rotten. And I meant it all. And I will, just as soon as I finish my new book. Then my agent will sell it and we’ll be on easy street! I’ve been promising that for 18 years too.
The wife of a novelist (a serious one) lives a life of hopeful expectation of literary success peppered with the impending stress of holding the day job while struggling to not lose hope while stifling her resentment of his misdirected passions.
So, how does the evening end? I sit on the sofa and stare at a TV show I can’t see while my mind roils like snakes fighting in my head. Outside the lawns offer shelter to feral cats, the kitchen trash percolates and the garage has become the ultimate nightmare of unkempt neglect. When was the last time I got the car oil changed? Do I care? Not really. The book calls with its siren song of nearly finished plots and promised success.
My wife appreciates the momentary attention and when she takes my hand and leads me to the bedroom, my talent begs I stay. She makes me shower (I should hope so) and she lights candles. Then she gives me an inviting smile and strokes my….
“Dear,” she says and I snap to attention.
“Do I have your attention?” she demands.
“Then what did I just say?”
“Uh,” I respond and the bedroom door closes with a slam. I stand naked in the dark hallway with my clothes in my arms. “Honey, I’m sorry.”
The door opens and she’s dressed and holding a suitcase. “When are you planning on finishing that book?”
“I’ll be done in a week.”
“That’s when I’ll be home.” And then, she drives away.
I’m overcome with emotion while I watch her drive into the night. Streetlights glint off the car’s chrome until there’s a flash of brake light, a sudden turn and she’s lost in the dark.
Hey, that’s pretty good! I rush to the keyboard, open the file and begin hammering out the scene. I’m still naked and the monitor illuminates my pale flesh with an ethereal hue. Oh yeah, keep it coming muse. I’m naked and alone, but who cares?
It only adds to the plot.
Thomas K. Matthews is the Amazon.com best-selling author of several books. He writes under three names in three genres and lives with his frustrated wife and son in San Diego, California. His latest novel Premium Life is available on Kindle and Createspace paperback.
I had a long comment about this post composed in my head … but then I realized whatever I wrote would probably just end up as fodder for Thomas’s next book plot. But now that I’ve written that, he’s just as likely to pen a tale about a writer who can’t have successful relationships with anyone because all his conversations — his every living breath — all end up in his books. And then if his agent doesn’t like what he produces, he’ll write about a ticked-off author who starts killing ineffective literary agents. Oh wait … he already did that!
Thanks for the chuckle! 🙂 Now put your clothes back on . . .
ha ha ha….This post made me laugh…uncomfortably. I can get past the nudity and even the jungle landscape, but when I think of the times I told my kids to make their own dinners – when all we had in the house were three eggs and some crushed, stale, potato chip crumbs forgotten in the back of a cabinet – I kind of feel bad. They’re all going to go off to college and then to therapy. While pouring out their hearts, at least one of them will realize that neglected offspring of single mother authors sells. And while I’m still struggling to convince readers to take a chance on SUKI and my Coffee Break Series, they will be picking the oldest, ugliest actress to play me in the film version of Mommy Dearest Two….and will eventually accept a Pulitzer AND an Oscar for their achievements…