Are you a closet writer—afraid to tell others you make up stories and actually enjoy it? Fear not! You are not alone! Blow out that dim candle of incognitoism and throw open the curtains, and rejoice in being “An Author!”
Last month I wrote about my first work. It was a sequel to The Pirates of the Caribbean movie I loved so much. The one thing I didn’t mention is that I wrote it basically in secret, without my husband knowing what I was doing. There were several compelling reasons I didn’t say anything about it—the biggest being was somehow I felt unfaithful to my husband for even wanting to think about a single character however unreal he was. I have this British friend, she's married to a firefighter, and she’s absolutely crazy about Johnny Depp. She goes out of her way to find information about him. Her computer screen saver has his pictures fading in a perpetual slideshow. I could go on, but I’ll spare you!
After I got over the idea I was cheating on my husband because I was writing about another man (character), I kind of felt embarrassed that I was trying something that was so difficult and obviously over my head. No, writing a novel is not like writing a comparative argument between two short stories—it’s not even close! If I knew how hard it was way back then, I might not have kept at it this long. There were times when my husband would ask me what I was doing. Do you want to know what I told him? I’ll tell you anyway. I’d say, “nothing.” Or, “writing an email.” Or, “reading.” I didn’t want him to know—at least not back then. It took a long time before I felt comfortable admitting out loud that I was “writing.” Even then I didn’t exactly shout it.
Last month a question was thrown out on Facebook. I won’t embarrass the good sister who originated the question, but it could’ve been me—might as well have been me, considering I totally identified with her quandary. I’ll paraphrase what she asked.
What do you do when your husband doesn’t support you in your writing?
You wouldn’t believe the heart-felt comments she germinated with that single question. I was one of them. Talk about a sore spot. Evidently we aren’t the only ones sitting behind our computers writing stories and wondering why we’re doing it and why we don’t free to talk about it.
I’ve been writing in the dark for so long—sneaking behind my husband’s back to put the words I’ve had piling up in my head down in my computer. I’ll write when he’s at work, or at the Church fulfilling his calling, or out of town teaching classes. Anytime I can, I’m typing away and almost everything else takes a back seat. It is my obsession.
It is a big part of my life, yet my husband barely admits to it. I know this for a fact. Recently he was interviewed in the newspaper about one of his firefighting photographs he took that won international recognition. It was a truly great article. When he talked about his family, he raved about our grown sons’ successes and about how I’m an award-winning artist. I was flattered with his even mentioning me. But after I set the paper down I began to reflect about what he omitted. He didn’t mention anything about my writing. I had a short story published one month earlier. I recently asked him if he knew anybody who had written even one novel—just one! He had to admit that he didn’t. I told him I had eight competed novels saved to my hard drive. Eight!
I just submitted two novels to an LDS publisher via email on Tuesday morning, and when I told him about it at lunch . . . he didn’t say anything. I felt crushed. I know there are sisters whose heroes are inspired by their husbands. I desperately want to be one of them. Their husbands are the first to shout hurray when they finally submit a manuscript no matter the outcome, but I find myself envying them.
I’ve grown weary of writing in the dark. I want a career as an author where I can say without any inhabitation that I write books. I don’t care if it doesn’t pay a fortune. Pin money would be great for this stay-at-home mom.
If you are in my situation, how do you handle the loneliness of not being able to talk to a real live person about what you wrote today, or of a problem you have with your plot, and such? Or, if you have one of those enlightened men who totally support you, was it always like that? I’m curious to know if there is hope for my dear husband, who seems to otherwise adore me.