Liars Club

Help Me. (Or Get The Eff Away From Me.)

by Simmons on May 27, 2010

in Advice for Writers,The Writing Life

Since I’m guest blogging today for Leslie Banks, I thought I’d talk about a piece of writing advice near and dear to both of our hearts.

A female writer I know, who had a full-time job and small children, once asked her professor how on earth she could make time to write in the midst of her busy life.   His reply was:  “Ask your husband for help.”  She said he was too busy.  And he said, “Then leave him.”

He wasn’t kidding.  It takes a very supportive village to be a writer, even if, like Leslie, you’re  willing to write your novels in the laundry room between wash cycles.  (She tells a hilarious story about this which I won’t co-opt. It’s also a tiny bit raunchy.)

When my kids were little, I woke up every morning at 5am to write before they got up.  Then I made breakfast, packed their lunches, and drove to my job in the city.  One morning, the kids were upset over something, and the eggs I was scrambling burned.  My husband heard me swearing and shrieking, came downstairs and calmly asked what was the matter.  I replied:  “I’ll tell you what’s the matter! I cannot simultaneously cook breakfast and lunch!”  And that was the day my husband started packing lunches. Yes, he kept forgetting who liked cheese and who didn’t, but everyone got over it and nobody got scurvy.

Over the years, as I sold my first novel, Standing Still, and had to find time to travel to book clubs, book stores, and conferences, he also (in addition to dishes, cleaning, etc) took over all the family’s paperwork and scheduling.  The health forms. The camp applications. Even the birthday party organization, invitations and the RSVPs. He is a thousand times better at these details than I ever was, probably because I was preoccupied with a plot twist while I was trying to do them.

I tell you this not to praise my husband (he is flawed, believe me!), but to remind you that the writing path is long and filled with potholes.  And while you shouldn’t surround yourself with ‘yes men’ who only tell you what you want to hear –  neither should you align yourself with ‘no men.’

So, you know those friends whining that you never have time for them any more, and that mother-in-law who thinks you should be out pulling weeds instead of rearranging verbs?

Banish them.  Or better yet, name a villain after ‘em.

Kelly Simmons is the author of Standing Still (Simon & Schuster) and coming in February, The Bird House.  Learn more at www.bykellysimmons.com Kelly’s post is part of an ongoing series in which Liars each chime in on a burning question about publishing.

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