No-one at Home Understands

Does Ben Read Your Books? (Ben being my long suffering partner-type person). I'm often asked this and the answer is no. Ben has read a few of my adult novels – When the Boys are Away for example, mainly because he remains convinced it is about him. Well us really. It’s about Meg and Simon. Simon is a professional sailor and travels a lot, leaving Meg at home keeping things rolling. Which understandably she grows to resent after a while. Ben used to be a professional sailor I should add, before I met him. And after I wrote this book he took 2 years out to do an Olympic campaign. But it really isn’t about him/us!

He’s also read Always the Bridesmaid and the first Ask Amy Green book. He’s a sci fi reader mainly. Sci fi and Jeremy Clarkson books. Oh and popular business books – The Tipping Point, that kind of thing. I write books mainly for myself (now and as a teen), so it’s hardly surprising that he finds them ‘interesting’ (a little baffling).

But here’s the thing – he’s very supportive of my writing. He understands when I switch on the light in the middle of the night and start scribbling into a notebook. He puts up with my questions about men and their ‘feelings’. He doesn’t take offence when I put my hand in the air like a traffic warden and say ‘don’t talk to me, I’m thinking’. So rude, I know! But when I have an idea running in my head, I need to concentrate on it. It happens mainly in the car or out walking. He just lets me think away, sometimes muttering to myself and scribbling on my hand. He goes on research trips with me, lately to Paris and Budapest (he was hardly complaining – but he did have to go to the Hungarian Ballet which was a first for him!).

He rarely complains when I write late at night, again ignoring him. He knows I have to read a lot, go to talks and events, look at art, walk, and generally mooch around to get ideas. Writers must live to have things to write about. They must have space to think and mull things over – which is damn hard for anyone with kids, pets, friends, partners etc. Or a job. Especially a job. At least I get to write full time now.

You need a supportive other half to write. You need someone who understands your creativity and your urge to write.

You need a space to write – and the ‘permission’ to retreat there, ignoring your family.

You need time to write – and this may impact on family time. But I think it’s best to find some low-impact times to write at first – early in the morning, late at night – not during the kids’ bedtime for eg, leaving your other half to do it! Commuting time is also good – when I worked for Eason I used to write on the train a lot.

If your partner is not a book person, find someone who is to share you work with if you feel the urge. I rarely share my work with anyone other than my agent, editor and one close friend, but some writers need feedback.

Show you are serious about your writing. Getting something published helps – then your partner has proof that you are not delusional, that someone professional likes your work too. If you get paid for your work it is no longer a ‘hobby’ (I dislike that word – writing is a way of life, not a hobby!).

I hope you all find the writerly support you need.

Yours in writing,

Sarah XXX