Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Inspired Writer Loses Sight Of All Else, Including Respect For Others

Dear Tazi:

My wife considers herself a budding author, and I want to be supportive of her in her attempts to write a novel.  She has always been supportive of me when I have had dreams to follow, but I feel I have reached the point where I need to put my foot DOWN.  My wife, on the other hand, is arguing that I am not trying hard enough to see her side of things and that I owe her an apology for being controlling and stepping on her dream.

"Nancy" decided she wanted to write a book when she saw how successful some bloggers can be when they publish their work in e-text format.  Since self-publishing is free, Nancy decided that she would follow her lifelong dream of writing a novel, since publishing it would not dip into our household budget.  With my wife being a stay-at-home-mom to our one year old daughter, money is tight.  However, I realize the need for a creative outlet and have tried my best to be supportive.

I have worked to respect Nancy's "creative time" and am helping out more around the house and with our daughter's care after work.  I am enjoying the extra Daddy time, and feel that by doing this I am being both a supportive husband and a good father.  Nancy has not complimented me once, saying as a father it is my job to help out when I am home (I work 12-hour shifts).

Nancy has taken to carrying a notebook with her wherever she goes because "you never know when inspiration will strike!"  Nancy keeps the notebook by our bed and writes when she wakes up in the middle of the night with ideas for her story.  My sleep is interrupted as well when this happens, but I keep quiet about it and try to be supportive.  Nancy will be struck by inspiration while we are out on a date (a rare treat), eating dinner, and other times that are inconvenient.  I have tolerated these interruptions until now.

Last week there was a memorial mass at church for my dearly departed mother.  During the middle of the pastor's sermon, Nancy got up and moved to the back of the church.  I was not sure if she was okay until I saw that [darn] notebook of hers!  Apparently, "inspiration" had struck right in the middle of my mother's mass and Nancy felt that it was OK to follow it!

After mass, I told Nancy that from now on when we go out the notebook stays home; that her behavior during mass was inconsiderate and inexcusable.  Nancy got upset and told me that if she didn't stop to write she would have been unable to concentrate on anything but her idea and would not have been fully engaged in my mother's mass anyway.  Nancy furthered that I should be complimented that the memory of my mother "brought on an inspiration" for her book.

It has been a week and things are still tense between us, with each of us believing the other owes an apology and an attitude adjustment.  How do you rule on this one, Tazi?

Not a Writer

Dear Not a Writer:

Nancy's behavior was way off course.  She should never have brought her writing notebook to church.  A memorial mass is generally one hour.  If she was unable to be both physically and spiritually present during this important event than she should have excused herself and left the church, not sat in the back of the church while journaling her ideas.  Ideally, she would have shuffled her idea into the back of her thoughts until after the mass!

I often assised my Mommie in the writing of research papers and scholarly commentary, both of which can require a great deal of inspiration (which is what I provide!).

Inspiration can strike at any time or place, so your wife is smart to carry a notebook, but one must also learn to control the urge to immediately act on those inspirations.  Rather than write an entire page (or more) of text, Nancy should simply file away the main point(s) and - at a more appropriate time - jot them down on a memo pad for future reference.  Once the idea is further examined and fleshed out, not every point of inspiration sounds as great as it initially did.

An unobtrusive way to take notes is to excuse yourself to the restroom and record your thoughts.  Many phones offer a voice-record memo feature that can be used for this purpose.  Since speaking is quicker than writing, it will take Nancy much less time to record her thoughts; thus lessening the creative intrusion.  Furthermore, hearing your idea played back in your own voice can confirm or contradict your original feelings on just how brilliant an idea really is.  I believe that this could make for a fair compromise between you and Nancy.

As for who owes who an apology: It appears to me that Nancy is throwing herself into her work with great fervor - to the point where she is not considering your needs.  For this, she owes you an apology; not only for her poor showing in church but for her attitude towards you at home.  I believe that you owe your wife an apology for losing your temper with her; she is not a child, she is your wife and your equal.  Talking down to her was not right, but understandable considering your lack of sleep.  I suggest you both try to start fresh by offering each other a kiss and a snuggle - or whatever it is you humans do behind closed doors.


P.S.  Nancy might find inspiration in my list of Tazi's Rules for Successful Writing, a compilation of lessons learned from the Writing and Rhetoric professors at the University of Rhode Island!

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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