This post is not about me advocating human-office supply marriage rights, even though I did see this sexy stapler the other day… No, having just celebrated my fifth wedding anniversary (to a human, just for the record), I’ve been thinking about the parallels between a committed relationship with your significant other and the committed relationship between you and your writing.

The craft is demanding… time, energy, resources… all of them being drained until you question your own sanity and start talking to your collection of cat posters, wondering just why you couldn’t have been a Sherpa, guiding foolish climbers to their mountainous tombs. Same with being married. Erm… sort of. Love you pookie!

Since it’s my fifth anniversary, I picked out a top five list, and present them to you, in no particular order.

 

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Both are WORK with a capital W-O-R-K

 

It takes incredible discipline to sit in your chair day in and day out, especially when things aren’t working well and you’d rather be anywhere else in the world. But you make yourself sit there because you know that the end result is going to be worth it. Or at least that’s what you hope will happen. Same with marriage. It takes an enormous effort to communicate with one another consistently and openly. You’re doing so in the hopes that you’ve chosen the right person to live the rest of your life with. There are days where you don’t want to put in the work, where you feel like you’d rather be any other place in the world, but those are the days when you really need to buckle down and try harder, because any one can get through the easy times. Anyone can make it when everything is going well. You only succeed when you can persevere and you can only persevere by putting in the work. In your writing, in your relationship, in anything you do.

 

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Outsiders just don’t get the idea…

 

Being a writer is a little bit like being in a club. So’s being married. I’m not trying to sound elitist here, I’m just referring to a lack of experience when dealing with certain situations. There are certain things that a fellow writer will understand that someone who doesn’t write won’t. For married people, the ‘non-writers’ are their single friends. A fellow writer wouldn’t question you for digging through a trashcan for a scrap of paper to jot down a brilliant idea that came to you when your supply of paper was out. They’d understand that need to commit the idea to paper immediately or risk losing it forever. A good friend would immediately hand over some of their paper, or perhaps offer their arm and a Sharpie. The best you could hope for from a non-writer is an odd look and them pointing out which napkins have spaghetti sauce on them. For married people, other married people tend to understand things like getting home at a decent hour, last minute runs to the grocery store for tampons, and things of that nature. Non-wrtiters/singles look at the effort that goes into these relationships and they just don’t get it, because they haven’t been there. That’s okay though, we like them anyway.

 

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The sexiness of forbidden fruit…

 

Temptations are everywhere. People give in to those temptations too, sometimes with alarming frequency. In marriage, there’s a reason that the term ‘7 year itch’ is able to exist. Obviously it varies from person to person, but I’d be willing to bet it’s a pretty vast majority of married people that have experienced the temptation to either stray, or just give up on their relationship. The longer the couple is together, the higher that likelihood. It’s a natural emotion really. We live in a world of infinite choices and it’s easy to start thinking about the choices you didn’t make and get to wondering what might have been. Thinking about them is okay, obsessing about them is not. Neither is letting them get in the way of the good thing you’ve got going already. Believe it or not (and this is one of those things that other writers will have no problem believing), doing the dishes is a temptation. The laundry is a temptation. Mildew is tempting. Don’t get me started on the kitchen junk drawer needing reorganized. Ohhhh the kitchen junk drawer… I need a cigarette. These are all temptations because they all look better than writing when you’re in the middle of a block. They all look better when your focus and attention NEED to be on that relationship. If you’re not strong enough, you stray. Fortunately, writing isn’t there waiting to key your car and give a tell-all interview to all the supermarket tabloids your grandma reads. Or maybe that’s not so fortunate, it might keep me at the computer instead of in the junk drawer.

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Don’t you just love hearing about everything you do wrong?

 

If you’ve got a good relationship you try really hard to be accepting of who the other person is, without wanting to change them. Sometimes though, things slip through. Little things, meant innocently enough, that when added up over a long period of time, can really grate on a person’s nerves. Five years of marriage and I know my wife and I have these kinds of things with one another. Can’t wait to see what we come up with in the next twenty. For example, I’ve learned to be particularly careful when it comes to comments about her driving. Never meant maliciously, but if stated while she’s in the wrong mood, not the smartest move to make. Lesson learned: If there is ANY doubt about her mood, keep the trap shut. But even if you know the signs and how to avoid most of the pitfalls, if you’re married long enough, and you do something wrong, you’re going to hear about it. Repeatedly. For writers, we don’t call those people spouses, we call them editors. Or even readers. Sure, they may mean well and want to help you improve, but let’s be honest here. It’s still grating and a touch hurtful to have those flaws pointed out, especially when we can’t see them ourselves. Even the most well intentioned critiques can cause panic, retreat, and self-loathing. That’s to say nothing of the venom spewed by Internet trolls on comment boards. We’ll call those our ex… or mother-in-law (no offense intended to any of the nice exes or mothers in law out there).

 

January 15, 2008

January 15, 2008

This is why I do what I do…

 

Why do you write? Why stay with the same person for years and years? It’s constant work, an incredible string of ups and downs, sometimes moving at such a fast pace that you have no clue which way is up or when the ride is going to stop. Why? Because of the high it gives you. As an individual, absolutely NOTHING compares to how I feel when a story is clicking. When everything is coming out of my mind and onto the paper (or screen) exactly how I envision it. Whether that stuff is any good or not isn’t the point. It’s WORKING for me and that’s all that counts. There are no true words to exactly capture that feeling. That feeling is why I write. I’ve felt it before and like the most helpless of addicts, I have to feel it again… and again… and again. Writing can be such a personal act, it was difficult to imagine getting a similar feeling outside of a solitary environment. When I look at my wife and everything is clicking, it’s that same euphoria though. Knowing I have someone who loves, supports, cherishes, and honors me, with all my faults, foibles, and the occasional stapler fetish… it doesn’t get better than that.

 

So how do you think being married is like being a writer? Anyone else have an unhealthy obsession with office supplies? I’m officially declaring this a judgment free zone. Peace, love, and ink my friends.

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