It’s Saturday…that means it’s Dear Gentle Writer Time!

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Wednesday night’s football game got rained out so we have football today! I am SO READY for Basketball season to start!

Today’s Dear Gentle Writer question comes from Kelly in Kansas: I’ve been writing for five years now with little success beyond requests for partials, but that’s not my question. My question is what to do about my family. I’m a stay at home mom with two teenage children, a husband and lots of family nearby. We’re very close-knit and get along well–except on the subject of my writing. I write during the day while my children are at school, I never forget to pick them up, or the husband’s drycleaning. I’m a good wife, a good mom, a good sister and a good daughter, but I get no respect–and neither does my writing endeavors.

Last week I was late for lunch with my mom because I had to stop at the post office and mail a requested partial. I’m normally quite punctual and I did call to let her know but when I arrived, she was downright rude about it. She really hurt my feelings! When I told my husband what happened, he sided with her! Then told me, not for the first time, that all my contest entries and partials to agents were, “a waste of time.” And that I was taking food from our children’s mouths. And believe me, it’s not like he doesn’t make a good living. It’s almost made me want to get a job so I don’t have to rely on “his” money to pay for postage and contest fees but that would severely cut into what writing time I have. Or quit.

What really galls me is I know if I sold a book tomorrow, they’d all pat me on the back and tell me they knew I could do it. Any advice you could give would be appreciated.

Dear Weary Writer…my first reaction is to suggest you tell your mother to mind her own damn business–and to tell your husband to stop being such a dick. But cussing at him would probably only make things worse. You don’t mention how old your children are but I know teens can be challenging. And demanding. And selfish. But I also know it’s okay to tell them no and be selfish yourself every now and again. Same goes for the hubby and mom. For what it’s worth, I think stay at home dads who are writers probably have it worse than you do. People EXPECT men to go out and work, not keep house and take care of the kids. I can’t imagine how much flack they must (probably) get.

You sound like a good mom/wife/daughter. So repeat after me, “I DESERVE THIS!” Because you do. And be sure you say it like you mean it!

You deserve to have something for yourself. You deserve to have something that is wholly yours! And as long as you maintain the status quo, they have nothing to complain about. Also, you might not work outside the home but you do work so you also deserve to be able to spend a part of your husband’s income. Look at it this way, if you divorced him and you live in a community property state, you’d get half of everything anyway. I’m not saying you should divorce him; I’m only trying to make a point.

As far as practical solutions go, I think you should confront the problem head-on. Tell them how you feel–Your writing is important to you, you don’t short change them, so they should leave you be, and if they can’t say anything nice they should just keep it to themselves. Keep telling them. Over and over!

They’ll eventually get it (or they won’t) but at least you’ll feel better about yourself because you stood up for what you believed in. In the long run I think a) your children will respect you more because you had the guts to stand up for yourself — and hopefully the rest of your family will too.

Anyone else been in a similar situation and if so, how did you handle it?

2 thoughts on “It’s Saturday…that means it’s Dear Gentle Writer Time!

  1. I think when you have a family dynamic people don’t like change. I am a stay-at-home-mom published author and have had nothing but support. We have the reverse of your story … when the hubby takes up a new endeavor, I get all bent out of shape. I don’t like change. I don’t like when he doesn’t fit neatly into the box I have in mind–and interrupts my delicately planned schedule. Eventually I stop acting silly. There is no rational reasoning behind it, it’s just different and I balk.

    I will say all the support I get aside, I still have time when I have to remind myself it’s okay for me to write. All four of my kids are in school now. (other than vaccuming) I keep up my in house work done. But I feel guilty nonetheless.

    On a money front, sold or unsold, if you are actively pursuing trying to publish you can write off the expenses assosiated with it–all the dues and contst entry fees, even a % of the books you by to stay “up” on the genre.

  2. Once I got over being upset on your behalf (and it took a minute or two), I’d have to agree with what’s been said here. Anyone who’d resent something like this, when it’s obviously not harming anyone, is feeling threatened for some reason.

    You can be a good wife and mother and still deserve to pursue your own dream, if that’s what you want.