I want to take a moment to tell you about a group called Networked Spouses and Partners of Writers (NSPOW), a support group designed to help those unsung heroes who, through no fault of their own, are being dragged along on the perilous road to publication in much the same way criminals were once tied behind horses and dragged to the place of their death.
Yes, life with a writer is nothing if not challenging and through workshops, publications, and its annual meeting, NSPOW reaches out to those downtrodden boyfriends, girlfriends, husband, wives, and soon to be ex-husbands and wives who live the writing life day in and day out, wringing the tears out of the handkerchiefs for their WPs (writer partners) and pointing out that the neighbors might be watching when their WPs have sworn off writing (again) and are lying on the front lawn half-dressed and weeping.
This year NSPOW's annual meeting theme will be, "The Nuts and Bolts of Living with Writers: Jesus, They’re Driving Me Up the Friggin’ Wall.”
Here are some session highlights:
1) Going Above and Beyond ‘SMILE and NOD’: The Non-Writers Guide to Talking about Writing:
Without question, the most important tool in the NSPOW toolbox is “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 adequate enthusiasm for your WP’s work? No? Well, sugar, you better get some and quick if you want this relationship to last once your WPs antidepressants run out. Some key phrases we’ll teach you is this break-out session:
- “I absolutely loved it!”
- “It was the best thing I've read in a long time. Seriously, hon. No, really, I'm not just saying that.”
- “I don’t know what the heck those editors are talking about? Your ms isn't totally derivative and flat! Not even a little bit! What are they, crazy?”
- and of course, “You’re gonna make it! I believe in you!”
3) Obsessive Behavior in Writers: Why Slapping Won’t Help (Though, Sure, Go Ahead and Give It a Try If You Want).
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. Of course you must respond with “I’d love to.” Because you have to say that or they’ll freak out or withhold conjugal affection from you.We can 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 Help Your WP Handle Years Upon Years of Painful 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!”