Having someone who supports you with your writing is perhaps one of the biggest motivators to keep going, story after story and page after page. A support group does wonders for this, but when the support follows you back home, that makes all the difference.
I have been very lucky to find that support at home. When Lindsey and I first moved in together in 2006, I don’t think she took my threats of “I don’t do anything during November except write” seriously. She soon learned, when dinner wasn’t ready in time and dishes were piling up, or when I was wearing the same shirt for the third time that week because I couldn’t break away from my novel to do laundry. It was the true test of a relationship – and we got through it with flying colors and only the occasional squabble.
It’s become a November tradition now. The week before NaNo, we come up with a huge list of slow cooker recipes and easy-to-make meals. We clean the house, write a schedule for the month, and make sure everything is good to go – because starting November 1st, I’m very little help. Not that I live in complete squalor – I now make sure I have enough clean clothes so I won’t have to wear the same shirt.
Lindsey is a saint when it comes to writing. She never complains about my laptop taking up our chaise, she indulges me by doing late-night coffee runs, and she always utters those magical words: “Let me know if you need anything.”
It’s not just during NaNo – and to be honest, it’s not just Lindsey, either! Any time I bust out my laptop and papers, taking over the entire coffee table with notebooks and pens and outlines and snacks, she stays out of my way and lets me work until I’ve used up my creativity quota for the day. My parents were the same – writing was the one thing I was allowed to sit on the computer and do for as long as I’d liked. I was encouraged to bring notebooks with me everywhere – on car rides, on vacation, into the bathtub (and several short stories were written this way when I was a kid! Perhaps I’m missing something now as an adult). When I went off to college to major in Creative Writing, my dad’s cousin told him, “I bet she’ll change her major after the first year.” My dad replied with a laugh and said, “No, she won’t.”
So in this particular area, I have been rather lucky, and I’ve always felt a bit sad for those not as lucky as I’ve been – people who need to get home by a deadline or are only given a few hours to write a week. Of course, when Lindsey has a drawing deadline due for work or a commission, I always do my best to reciprocate this, and I think that’s part of the secret – after a huge writing assignment is finished, spoil your spouse! Take your parents out for a nice dinner, invite your friends over for a beer, relax, hang out, and close the laptop. I find a little goes a long way when it comes to attention versus writing!