Saturday, May 26, 2007

May is the cruelest month

by Kathryn Miller Haines

May has been a month of waiting for me. I’m waiting for my book to come out. I’m waiting for my agent to read and respond to the new book I sent him. I’m waiting for my editor to send me my revision letter for my second mystery.

And I’m waiting for June 6th. That’s my tenth anniversary. While Nancy Martin gets a trip to Venice for her anniversary, I get five days in Tucson, Arizona. The destination was chosen because that’s where TapeOp Magazine (which my other half writes for) is having their conference. Yes, I’m going to a music industry conference for my anniversary. But while you may see a marriage in swift decline, I see a luxury hotel with a swimming pool, lots of mojitos, and a new band every night we’re there. And desert air free of allergens. I miss breathing.

I’m also going to be one of the only women there. It’ll be like being the prettiest girl at the monastery.

I’ve been getting pretty misty-eyed lately thinking about our anniversary. We married when we were mere zygotes and have done a lot of growing up together (and, judging from my recent attempts to squeeze into my wedding dress, a substantial amount of growing out). I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about writers with unsupportive spouses and I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to get up and write everyday knowing that the person you chose to share your life with resents what you do. We face enough rejection in this business without having to face it at home.

My husband is a voracious reader, but his books of choice are fantasy. He’s a big believer that my fiction would be better if I included a dragon or a troll in the story (and given the current popularity of cross-genre stuff, he might be on to something). Yet despite my stubborn refusal to write the kind of book he’d most enjoy reading, he’s been my biggest supporter over the years, reading drafts, helping me parse rejection letters, encouraging me to get over myself and start writing again. And holding me when I needed to let it all out and cry.

I’ll never forget the day the man who would be my agent called me. My husband and I were…er…in flagrante (which just goes to show you that that call really does come when you least expect it). We had neglected to turn the phone off and as it began to ring, we glanced at the caller ID. My husband asked who Trident Media Group was. I replied it was a literary agency and my husband immediately screamed for me to answer it. I didn’t do so fast enough, but rather than returning to our previously scheduled activity my husband demanded that I call the agency back RIGHT THEN. That, my friends, is love.

When The War Against Miss Winter sold, however, he greeted the news with much more muted enthusiasm that I would’ve expected. Oh, there were flowers and a lovely bottle of wine, but I expected him to be as gob smacked by the news as I was. Unable to stand it, I finally asked him why he wasn’t hopping up and down. Wasn’t this unbelievable?! Wasn’t he excited?!

Of course I’m excited, he told me. I’m just not surprised. I always knew you’d eventually be published. I just didn’t know when.

So who are your biggest supporters?


Anonymous said...

What a lovely (and funny) story about getting an agent! As a therapist, I hear mostly about bad relationships, so it reminds me why people DO get married.

I have to say, quite honestly, that my biggest supporters are my friends from Sisters in Crime and Pennwriters'. Talking to others who keep writing encourages and shames me into doing the same.

And, of course, hearing "how I got published" stories is pretty inspiring, too!

Anonymous said...

I heard Kurt Vonnegut speak once. Asked for his best advice for new writers, he said, "Marry well." I've been lucky, too, Kathy. My career has been a team effort. Great blog!

Joyce Tremel said...

Nice blog, Kathy! My husband is my biggest supporter, too, even though he doesn't read my books. He'll read bits and pieces or an occasional article, but he just doesn't read any fiction. But he couldn't wait to tell everyone he ran into (whether he knew them or not) when I landed an agent. And he'll do the same when my agent finds a home for it.

We've been married almost 27 years and are still "in love."

Working Stiffs said...

Aw, 27 years, Joyce -- that's great!

I think the secret is having support from somewhere. That's the big lesson of conferences for me. It's just so cool to hear from other people who know what you're going through and understand how big an achievement, or how crushing a rejection, really is.


Annette said...

Happy anniversary, Kathy! And I suspect you'd be one of the prettiest girls there even if women outnumbered men.

I celebrated 24 years of marriage with my hubby on Monday. Well, actually, that was the anniversary date. We'll be celebrating tonight with dinner at Olive Garden (whoo hoo!) and later with...well, you know.

Hey, it's been a busy week.

But to answer your question, Ray is definitely supportive, although he's not one to read fiction, either. He tells me he's waiting for the movie. Thing is, he's serious. If that ain't confidence, I don't know what is. My mom is another of my big cheerleaders. And of course there's all you guys. What would I do without you? I'll tell you...NOT stand a chance of getting published, that's what!

Right now Ray is supporting my writing career by struggling to install a window air conditioner in my office so my computer and I won't melt this summer. He's also using some inventive language. Hmm.

Anonymous said...

Great blog, Kathy! Happy Anniversary to you and your hubby. My husband and I celebrated six years (I know, we're rookies) last weekend while I was at the PW conference. He's been my biggest supporter of my writing all along.

Here's a toast to great husbands and great marriages!

Working Stiffs said...

Aw, have fun tonight, Annette. And enjoy the air conditioning. And happy belated anniversary to you, Kristine. This is the last one you'll be celebrating alone for a while;)

Parents are wonderful supporters too, though I find mine observe my work with a less critical eye, which is lovely if not particularly helpful. I remember reading a horror story on Kristin Nelson's blog where someone's mother called her to read her the riot act after Kristin rejected her daughter. As mortifiying as that was, I'm convinced that, given the opportunity, my mother would've done the same.