My Fellow Writers,
This post is a message from Regina Bennett, president of NSPOW, and is intended for all our long-suffering spouses, girlfriends/boyfriends, and partners. Please, encourage them to read on.
I want to take a moment to tell you about the Networked Spouses and Partners of Writers (NSPOW). We are a world-wide nonprofit network, established in 1441, by Mrs. Johannes Gutenberg, dedicated to supporting the people who support writers.
Life with a writer is nothing if not challenging and as president of NSPOW and a long-time spouse of a writer myself, I understand that sharing quarters with our WPs (writer-partners) can be a right awful pain in the keester sometimes. Through NSPOW’s workshops, publications, and our annual meeting, we reach out to those unsung heroes who, through no fault of their own, are getting dragged along on a perilous journey to publication.
I want to take a moment to tell you about our upcoming annual meeting, the theme of which is, “The Nuts and Bolts of Living with Writers: Jesus, They’re Driving Me Up the Friggin’ Wall.”
Here are some session highlights:
1) Beyond ‘SMILE and NOD’: The Non-Writers Guide to Talking about Writing: Without question, the most important tool in your NSPOW toolbox is what we call in the trade, “feigning interest.” Many of you are already masters at this or you wouldn’t still be involved with/married to your WP after so many years, but some newcomers could benefit from the experiences of veteran feigners. Workshop leaders will go beyond the tried and true “smile and nod” method and teach you skills to help you navigate through the mine field that is any discussion of your WP’s work. In this hands-on seminar you’ll learn: extremely sympathetic nodding; advanced earnestness; effective brow-knitting; how to cover when you forget what she was just talking about; and enough writerly jargon to bluff your way through a conversation without sounding as if you really couldn’t care less.
2) Enthusiasm 101: Do you have adquate enthusiasm for your WP’s work? If you don’t, you better get some and quick. Some key phrases we’ll teach you: “I absolutely loved it!” “It was the best thing I have read in a long time.” “I don’t know what those agents are talking about? What are they? Crazy?”; and of course, “You’re gonna make it! I believe in you!” Here’s a little sneak peek from one of our most popular sessions : “If you’re having trouble coming up with new ways to express enthusiasm, just trawl through some movie reviews in the paper and paraphrase. Don’t be a doink and say the bit about 3 out of 4 stars because that’ll just make them suspicious and then you’ll ruin it for the rest of us.” Also includes the mini-course on meaningful gesticulations and facial expressions that show you're not just BS-ing them.
3) Obsessive Behavior in Writers: Why Slapping Won’t Help, led by renowned psychotherapist Dr. Jackie Biel. Are you living with an “Inbox Addict”? Has your WP been restricted by court order to stay 100 feet back from publishing executives and agents? We can help you through this. You’ll learn why you should never, ever say, “Would you freaking relax already?” or “Look, just try not to think about it, OK?” These sorts of comments will only aggravate the condition and cause your WP to lash out at you or accuse you of not understanding them. And once you get caught in that loop, my friend, you are in for a long night. We’ll teach you how to distract your WP so effectively, they may be able to talk to you about something besides writing for up to thirty minutes EVERY DAY! Imagine the possibilities? **We’re pleased once again this year to present two lucky workshop attendees with all-expense paid trips to Northern Canada, courtesy of the Manitoba Visitors Bureau. Thank you, Manitoba, for helping us to isolate our WPs from social media outlets like nobody else!
4) Setting Boundaries with Your WP: Tips and Success Stories: Have you ever found yourself in this uncomfortable position? Your WP has just finished a story/novel and has asked you to read it, but there’s nothing you want to do less, especially now that it’s March and your team bracket is still doing really well in the NCAA championship. What do you do? Of course you must respond with “I’d love to.” That’s just the way it is with writers. You have to say that or they’ll freak out or withhold conjugal affection from you. But in order for your life not to become too nightmarish, we’ll help you set up boundaries within your relationship so you can read on your own terms with no deadline hanging over your head. Our workshop leaders can even teach you how to effectively fake a stroke to stave your reading off almost indefinitely!
5) How to Handle Your WP’s Rejection: This workshop was so over-enrolled last year, we’ve added four concurrent sessions that run the entire last day of the conference, although really, people, as we said over and over last year, there’s honestly nothing for it. Just hunker down with a bottle of your favorite liquor, two shots glasses, and ride it out. The crying will stop eventually.
Remember, everyone, as hard as it may be at times to live with your WP, if you hang in there, you will earn that sought-after book dedication and the satisfaction of knowing that you helped a promising writer along in his/her career!
Good luck and as we say at NSPOW, “Happy feigning!”
Yours sincerely (no, really, I mean that),