Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thursday Thought: Another Question Answered

Q: Here's my question: I enjoy writing and have a book in mind. It is hard to find the time to put my words down and then there is the process of editing that must be done. My husband is not really encouraging me and seems to think it is a whim and something to keep him at arms distance. This is not the case as I need support and go to a writer's critique group for poetry I write. I feel it is causing some resentment on his part.

Should I just ignore his feelings. Talking to him about it will always result in a stalmate as he says it's OK. I want to be able to write something that is worthwhile and makes a person enjoy as well as learn life lessons. Thanks for your insight.

A: I will never forget sitting at a table at a writer's conference with a woman who was there for the sixth year. Six years of spending over $1000 on this particular conference, with no results. She was back again with a proposal, hoping this time would be "the time."

"How does your husband feel about this?" I asked, knowing exactly how my husband would feel about it.

"Oh he's supportive. He knows this is part of it," she replied. "He encourages me to come back, to keep writing."

I did not tell her that the only reason that I was there was because I had gotten enough money from my writing to be able to cashflow this expense. That was the deal my husband and I had. He understood that I needed the training the conference could provide. He agreed I should go. He worked it out to be with the kids. He was/is supportive of my writing. But I can promise you beyond a shadow of a doubt, he would not have supported forking over $1000 every year as I chased after a dream with no results. He would've encouraged me to get a new dream.

I say this not to make my husband sound like an ogre. He's just a very practical man. (Men tend to be more practical while we're more emotional, which is why God puts us together-- He knows we need that practical voice in our lives.) Curt wants me to be successful. He wants me to chase my dreams. But he also doesn't want us to go into the hole to do it. He doesn't want the kids to go without a mom, or the house to be a wreck or our relationship to suffer in the name of "mom's dream." My priorities, he has helped me to see, need to stay in place no matter how close the dream seems. I see acknowledgements where the author thanks her husband and family for eating frozen pizzas during the time she wrote the book. While my family will eat frozen pizza every so often, they won't eat it as a lifestyle. I still need to put dinner on the table and keep a decently clean house. I can't just announce I've become a writer and abdicate all the things that were once important to me. That includes creating a home, caring for my children, investing in my marriage, etc.

All of this to get to my answer. I think that pursuing your dream of writing is good. I think it's good to have stuff that's solely ours, whatever that may look like. But I also think that our husbands fear losing us to those passions, especially if they see signs that could happen. Pray about the way you can do both, finding blocks of time where writing can fit into your life instead of your life yielding to your writing. Depending on your kids' ages, write when they are in school. Put writing in its place in your life. Don't let it bleed all over the other areas. And when your husband talks, really listen instead of arguing in your head. (Not that you do that, but I know I do.) Try to hear what's at the root of his concerns. What's true about what he's saying? Do you spend more time writing than with him? Are you distracted by your daydreams of being published? Do you forsake things you used to make a priority in the name of accomplishing more? These are all things I am guilty of. Things I have to guard against.

I don't have this all figured out. I am continually tweaking, adjusting, shifting. And then sometimes-- as I wrote about last Friday-- just laying it all on the altar and saying "I will quit if You tell me to." I don't ever want to hold anything more dearly than I hold God's voice in my life.

I've written this before but I always try to think about that signature line I saw many years ago that said "Striving to be an old woman with no regrets." When I reflect on my life will I regret it if I don't write? Will I regret it if I miss things with my kids? Will I regret it if I don't invest in my marriage when I can? I try to measure everything against this. Jacqueline Kennedy said "No matter what I do in life, if I mess up raising my kids, nothing else will matter much." (Totally paraphrased but that's the gist.)

Pursue your dream of writing by all means. God gave it to you. I believe that. He will also help you fit it in your life. He loves to make much out of nothing and to work in spite of the odds. That includes husbands who don't seem to "get it" and serious time limits. Write for His glory, live your priorities, and the rest will follow.
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Amy O'Quinn said...

This is the VERY best response I have ever seen to this question. Well said. Sometimes I struggle with keeping my priorities in order, but the deal around here concerning my writing can't interfere with family/home. So I have to fit it in where/how I can in the slots I have available--even if that means getting up at 5 am sometimes.
LOVED your advice and response.
Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

Sorry Marybeth I don't agree with you, although you make some very valid points,I think you are a little off base with a few things. There are many very well known very successful authors that will tell you they endured years of rejection, for many of them it took longer than six years before they finally published their first novel, and some of them have landed on the best seller list, imagine if any of them would taken your advice and given up and found a new dream after only six years. If someone's reality is that their husband supports forking over a $1000 a year to support their dream and encourages them to keep writing, I don't you should be judging that. I think everything else you said is spot on.

Marybeth said...

I agree that you shouldn't quit your dreams. The comment about getting a new dream I made was a joke that my husband and I share. Sorry if it sounded flip. I was giving an example from my life because the person was asking me what I would do. We are a one income family with six children. It would be wrong of me to ask my family to invest 1000's of dollars into something that didn't result in a payday. It's just not something we can do. And honestly, with the economy, I don't think it's something many other one income families can do either. Because my husband and I counsel couples on their personal finances, I tend to always counsel people to really think through their expenditures. Is there a way that woman could get that training at less cost? Could she go every other year? Could she buy books or cd's, etc? I wasn't judging the other woman-- I was simply giving a viewpoint that I think is another way to look at it. Many of us are guilty of getting so tunnel-visioned with our dreams that we don't stop to think about what the cost is-- financially and otherwise.

Cheri Bunch said...

Hi Marybeth~ I really enjoyed your post and benefitted from it. I didn't hear a judgemental voice, but a prudent one. I appreciate that! I think you give some extremely wise advice.
Great post!

Marybeth said...

Thanks Cheri! You are always so faithful to offer some encouraging words and I appreciate it!!