Liars Club

Burning Question: How Does Writing Affect Your Relationships?

by Merry Jones on August 11, 2010

in Liars Club Philly,The Writing Life,Uncommitted

I’m tempted to ask, “What relationships?”

Because while I’m writing, I’m pretty much isolated.  Well, no.  I have a lot of company, but most of the people I hang out with aren’t real to anyone but me. They’re made up.  Make believe.  And, for the weeks and months that it takes to write a book, they dominate my mind, pushing aside mostly everyone else.

Fortunately, the real people who are closest to me accept that I can be quite distracted.  The kids got it early on that, when mom was in her office, they could get away with most anything.  Many times they’d interrupt while I was right in the middle of a murder or a harrowing narrow escape, and they had to wait a few moments for me to refocus.  I don’t think it ruined their lives to wait those moments; they knew they were the Most Important People in the World.  It’s just that, when I was in the office writing, I wasn’t always grounded in that World.

And my husband?  His encouragement has been unfailing. Which is good for our relationship because, well, remember that old saying: If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy?  Wisely, he encourages this Mama to do what makes her happy.  He reads and comments on my work, shares his thoughts, helps me work out snafus.

Beyond that, my writing has brought us closer in unexpected ways.  In fact, so close that I actually became him, or he became me, when I ghostwrote a book under his name.  Who knew that the man would end up on a 21-day book tour, appearing on radio and television, being interviewed by newspapers all over the country as the talented and hilarious author of I LOVE HER, BUT…  The man became a media sensation, accepting the credit on the surface, but, even as I simmered jealously, it wasn’t lost on me how generously, supportively and uncomplainingly he took those weeks away from his own career to promote mine.

Overall, though, writing has a profound effect on my relationships because I’m much better at them when I’m writing.  Much of my unsettled dark energy is released into the work, woven into plots and thrust upon fictional characters.  So that, having wreaked havoc all day on my computer, I can conduct relationships with the real live people I love in peace.  Usually…

Liars Club member Merry Jones is the author of the Zoe Hayes mysteries, including The Nanny Murders, The River Killings, The Deadly Neighbors and The Borrowed and Blue Murders.  She has also written humor, including I Love Him, But… and If She Weren’t My Best Friend, I’d Kill Her, and non-fiction, including Birthmothers:  Women who relinquished babies for adoption tell their stories.

What about you?  Has writing affected your personal relationships?  Share your comments!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jessie Mac August 11, 2010 at 8:16 am

Having started writing this year, I realized that without those around you to support your writing, it can be really difficult.

I’m really lucky, like yourself, to have a family around who knows this is what I want to do and support me the best they can. My partner doesn’t understand about writing or the publishing industry and I try not to bombard him too much with my work but he understands it’s what I want to do and he is a haven from the stresses of the writer’s life.

Thanks for the post, Merry. Not enough is said about the people who makes our dreams possible. They should know that they’re appreciated especially when they usually don’t understand what we go through when we go to our writing cave on our own – because no one can do the writing except us. And yet, they’re still there for us.

Like you, I have an energy – I call it the need for drama – that is best channeled toward writing. Thanks – it’s good to know I’m not the only one.

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