Writing Support of the Snuggly Kind
Ah, writers. Our self-esteem is notoriously low. Publishing a novel dramatically improved my ability to claim an identity as a writer, but even so, I am regularly seized with doubt. Will I ever write anything that long again? Am I just a one-hit wonder (and not a terribly big hit, at that)? Was that snarky comment directed at me? WHY DOES NOBODY RECOGNISE MY GENIUS?
Well, I am very lucky that someone does.
The guy I've been married to for four months is more supportive of me as a writer than I ever thought anyone could be. I joke that he's my Marketing Director, because he's always telling people about my novel: how it was a Scottish bestseller in its first week and that there are plenty of copies available in bookshops. (Needless to say, my publisher loves him too.)
Before he met me, he knew Frankfurt as a city in Germany; now he talks about it in terms of my potential foreign rights deals. (Nothing yet, but we live in hope.) I will probably make him coffee every weekend for the rest of my life to thank him for getting out of bed at 8.30am on a Sunday morning to come to Charlotte Square Gardens and hear me read a ten-minute excerpt he'd heard a dozen times before. Heck, he checks my Amazon ranking more than I do.
Some writers' partners also act as their editors, while others don't read the work until it's published. We're in the latter category. For one thing, thanks to my New Writers Award, I have an excellent mentor. My relationship with her is strictly business and has nothing whatsoever to do with who failed to clean the bathroom that week. My husband also thinks that everything I write is 'awesome'. (I just confirmed this with him.) Sure, I could probably push him into being more critical, but given that I regularly receive rejections from agents, editors, and publishers, I would rather keep him as the one guaranteed supporter of my work. My ego often needs to be reminded that my self-worth is not wrapped up in whether that journal accepted a sonnet.
Everyone needs validation and support for their work. If you're a surgeon who performs operations with names like 'pancreaticoduodenectomy' you may well need a hug afterwards. But that surgeon probably never has to justify her choice of profession to anyone else, whereas writers frequently do. I consider myself fortunate: my family always supported my decisions, and the partners I've chosen over the years have done the same. One of them spent over two years living with an A3 schematic of Hitler's bunker taped up in the living room. (Yes, I dedicated the novel to him.)
If you read enough biographies of female writers, you’ll find with wearisome regularity tales of dismissal or resentment. It’s difficult not to feel that you may need to make a choice between a career and a supportive relationship, even in these modern times.
I am definitely lucky. I not only found a great all-round guy, but my number one fan.