Living with a Writer (or, why I feel sorry for my husband)

Lying in bed the other night, my husband and I were chatting about our day and decompressing a bit before bedtime. Our conversation lulled for a moment and something (a dust mote floating through the air, the scent of smoke coming in through the window from our neighbor’s fire, it doesn’t take much) sent my mind from the relative calm of our pre-bedtime routine straight back into the insomnia-inducing danger zone of revising my book.

He asked what I was thinking about, and I had to sheepishly admit that I was thinking, yet again, about my story. He groaned, teased me a bit, and we were both able to drift off to sleep. But it got me thinking.

I’ve blogged before about life as the wife of an INTP, but now I’d like to send some appreciation over to that INTP, who is now suffering through the sometimes-agony of being married to a writer. Not that I haven’t always been a writer, because I have, but for the past year, it’s gone from a hobby or future dream to a full-time job, and one that’s consuming all of my time and most of my mental energy as well.

My daily habits and even my thoughts are shifting. And after 18 years of marriage, I can only imagine that’s a bit terrifying for my husband–I certainly know my local friends have noticed a difference.

So I started poking around, looking not only for articles that would explain my situation, but that might offer some support to my other half, much like the multitude of articles on living with an INTP have helped me over the years. The results were both amusing and terrifying.

First, the sheer number of blog posts like this one, containing tips on how to live with a writer should indicate that Matt has real reason to fear. And this one hits way too close to home with its bit about how crabby writers get when they’re on deadline. Ouch. Anyone married to someone about to participate in NaNoWriMo probably knows exactly what November will be like and hopes simply to keep their head down and survive it.

On a brighter note, I love 18 things Highly Creative People Do Differently because it moves beyond my work habits or my creative abilities and looks at why I’m OK with things like dropping everything and moving to Finland, chopping my hair off on a whim, or arguing the opposing side in a debate just to see what happens. Some of the items on this list are not things I had previously connected to being creative.

Living with a Creative Mind provides a number of interesting quotes on the creative process, none more heart-wrenching than an excerpt from James Lipton’s Behind the Actor’s Studio interview with Robin Williams, whose recent death shed some much-needed light on mental illness.

The Trials of Living with a Creative cracked me up with their very definition of a creative: Distinguished by an inability to complete mundane tasks effectively unsupervised, refusal to recognise their own unworldly creative genius and are often surrounded by a large collection of used mugs. When the author described himself as being at the opposite end of the rationality scale, I paused for a minute to wonder if this could be considered definitive proof that opposites attract and, simultaneously, if my husband wrote this article using a nom de plume.

All jokes aside, I don’t think our marriage is in any danger due to my newfound writing habits. And we both understand that the mania I’m experiencing now as I simultaneously revise, query, and draft a new work-in-progress will not be permanent. Writing, like everything else, ebbs and flows. But reading through these articles helped me realize that I need to find a bit more balance and possibly consider some conversation topics not centered on the imaginary characters that live in my brain and on the page. I’m up for the challenge, but maybe I should wait until after NoNoWriMo…