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:~: Monday, December 04, 2006 :~:

Your Writing Environment

I'm trading blog days with E because I'm going with my DH to his annual firefighters convention in San Diego. With no kids and DH in long meetings all day, I'll be doing a lot of writing, excercising, walking on the beach, shopping... You get the picture. :-)

Okay, onto business...

Last week I waited down to the wire to get my GH entries in. Typical of me, really. But I wanted to make them the best they could be, which meant making some deep changes--story of my writing life.

And I've learned over the years that waiting until the last minute creates a multitude of problems: stress being number one. This last week I've been moody and snappy, trying to do everything I usually do and hammer out those entries (loooong hours revising). My compulsive, perfectionist nature didn't help matters.

Then of course there are other issues: mistakes (making changes to the wrong version), rash judgment calls (cut that scene, rewrite that scene), financial burdens (it's expensive to send those things express!), unexpected problems (I still have ink stains on my hands from my dang printer jam).

Which brings me to the support topic.

My husband saved me the night before I had to get the entries in the mail, and it struck me how far we've come and what a supportive environment I have for my writing, one I sometimes take for granted.

That night, my kids gave up the computer without argument and endured my snippiness while I fought with the stupid printer. When all my attempts to fix it failed, my husband took me out to his fire station, which recently closed for the winter season, and set me up on three different printers so I could get the entries done. He made sure I had snacks and heat and music before he left to play taxi for the kids. Then he called every half hour to check on me and make sure the printers were working.

We just had our sixteenth anniversary.

But it wasn't always this way. The road of acceptance didn't come over night--from my husband or my parents or my friends. Writing is my ninth career, and I'm not even sure you could call it a career since I don't get paid for it. Yet. I guess you could call it a serious endeavor.

In my early years, probably through about my sixth career change, I was met with a lot of opposition and criticism and negativity across the board. Career changes, especially into the creative field (art, music, writing), aren't typically met in our society with excitement and glee. They're seen as risky--so is making changes in general. Do it too often, and you're seen as flaky.

I challenged and debated and endured, sometimes unhappily, sometimes grudgingly, sometimes challengingly. All my endeavors have been successful to some degree, and over the years, my loved ones have come to accept the fact that this is who I am, and that I'm fully capable of doing several things at once. I proved that I could make my ideas work while still playing mother, wife, daughter, aunt, sister and friend.

Because of that, my shift to writing wasn't a huge leap for my circle of supporters. And as the years press on and I continue to write, win a contest here and there, rack up the industry rejections, they spur me on.

A long time ago, I learned to cull the negative nay-sayers out of my immediate circle. And I give my family and friends the same kind of positive, constructive, loving support that I expect in return. It's made my marriage stronger, my friendships deeper and my familial relationships richer with mutual respect and belief and support.

Laurie Wood just wrote an article on the subject after doing surveys. I'm hoping she can give us some statistical reference on the topic.

So, what's your writing environment like? What conflicts do you face and how do you handle them? What highs and lows have you had in an attempt to carve out your positive writing environment?


Blogger wavybrains said...

Fabulous topic, Joan. And a very timely topic for me right now. Due to a broken foot, I've been between jobs for about three months now. And while he's very supportive of my writing, my DH is a bottom-line kind of guy and he needs to see some money coming in soon from some source. I've worked hard since I've been out of work to get my writing taken more seriously--keeping regular hours, reporting in on word counts when we have the usual "how's your day conversation," and standing up for my need to write versus other activities. My extended family is also extremely supportive, my mother is also a writer and she critiques for me.

Career change is always really scary and does require a lot of support. For me, even contemplating changing from law took a lot of mental stress--I paid all that money and only practiced how long? But I'm much more fulfilled teaching and writing, and I know it was a good call for me--but it's one that stresses me daily too.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Paty Jager said...

I've been lucky that my circle of friends and my family have been supportive from the start. Which is good since it has taken a long time for me to get published. And even though I'm published it isn't with a big publisher so now there is a lot of PR work that has to be done which takes time and money.

I think having the support of your spouse, family, and friends will help a writer become successful.

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Joan ~ yes, I've written an article on spousal support for your writing, which will appear in the March 2007 issue of Romance Writers Report. In my research I found that my questionnaires came back split 50/50 between pubs and unpubs. The unpubs who were unhappy with their spousal support had problems with areas of encouragement, not being allowed to go to conferences, having writing time curtailed by "made up" family emergencies, extra family duties foisted on them rather than the spouse handing them, etc. Whereas the pubs tended to be happy with their spousal support, and every single one mentioned that their spouses were happy they were bringing home a paycheque. This seemed to be the tie-breaker. The unpubs husbands saw writing as taking away from their family life, as a hobby, an irritant, something that was a "control" issue in the marriage. The pubs husbands were happy that their wives were fulfilled by their creativity AND bringing home some money. Thus, the pubs felt their spouses "were a tremendous support" etc.

As you've said in your post, Joan, you've worked over the years at cutting out the Negative Nellies in your life, and at building up your marriage and family relationships. This can only bring you benefits when you need time, space, and extra help with your writing. And so, you've received that at GH time. This is part of the answer to the problem of dealing with spouses who don't support a woman's writing career - or a woman who's trying to have a writing career. It won't work for everyone, because some husbands just aren't going to help you no matter what you do. In that case, there are marriage problems that need to be addressed by a professional, the sooner the better. In my research, two writers, both published, had left their spouses because of marriage problems that appeared to be causesd by their writing on the surface but were really much deeper.

I hope people find some solutions and new information in March when the article appears in RWR. Thank you, Joan, for inviting me to comment on your post! Please visit me at http://www.writingontheedge.blogspot.com anytime.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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1:43 PM  
Blogger MaryF said...

I am so so so lucky. My dh lets me go to conference, comes with me, even though it means that is our family vacation for the year. He encourages me to enter contests and submit and to write. He's the best!

9:26 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Joan, your DH is a gem. :) You're a lucky girl.

1:34 PM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Love to hear the many reports of positive support for all of you!! Thanks for your comments.

12:12 PM  

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