Let us sing in praise of the author’s spouse.
Mine has certainly had a rough time of it lately while I struggled to meet my deadline. For the past few months I didn’t take a single day off. Several times a night, I’d awaken sweating and sick with dread, certain that my manuscript was doomed and my talent was spent. I holed up sixteen hours a day in my office, emerging only for dinner, and then I’d make only half-hearted attempts at conversation because my mind was still on my characters. I turned down concerts, party invitations, sailing trips, and walks in the woods, forcing my spouse to do everything solo. The book was sucking the life out of me. Exhausted by sleepless nights, I made slow progress on the book. And slow progress on the book gave me sleepless nights.
But last week, everything changed. I finally turned in the manuscript and my editor loved it.
For the first time in months, I’m sleeping all night. Suddenly I’m hot to party, to shop, to dine out, to travel. It’s as if a mood switch has been flipped. Or I’ve just swallowed a handful of the world’s best uppers. I’m a whole new glorious me.
My husband takes it in stride.
A writer’s year is punctuated by these wild manic-depressive mood swings. I know my own pattern so well that, a year ahead of time, I can mark out on the calendar when I’ll be my happy self, and when I’ll begin the annual and perfectly predictable descent into insanity. I’ve learned not to schedule anything at all during the three months prior to a deadline. I’ve learned that the best part of the year is right after my manuscript has been accepted, but before the first (sometimes painful) reviews start dribbling in.
Which adds up to maybe three or four really good months out of the year.
But once the reviews come in, once the book goes on sale and the promotional cycle begins, life around the Gerritsen household starts to get tense again.
And once again, my husband takes it in stride.
He and I have gone through this cycle so many times that he knows what to expect. But it doesn’t make it any easier to take. Recently, we had dinner with another writer and her non-writing spouse, and her husband admitted that in their household, too, things get really hairy around deadline time. These stresses affect every writer, and every writer’s spouse.
Yet so many writers I know have solid, enduring marriages. That surprises me, because I can’t imagine we writers are easy to live with. Maybe we just chose our spouses well. Maybe we got lucky.
Or maybe we’re just incredibly exciting, sexy, creative beings…
For four months out of the year.