The Supportive Spouse and other writer problems

The Supportive Spouse and other #writing problems -
background images courtesy of Unsplash and

I’m starting to suspect my hubby’s support of my writing career may not be quite as altruistic as he lets on.

Oh sure, he says he wants me to succeed. He wants us to be in a position to offer our closest friends a spur-of-the-moment place at our beach house or mountain chalet as much as I do. In fact, he probably wants that even more than I do (mountain chalet and beach homes can be dirt magnets after all).

But . . .

Well, take, for example, this past summer. He decided, quite out of the blue, that I deserved a proper writing desk rather than the shared surface I was using. But space in my house is at a premium and the children’s toys seem to multiply even faster than the dust bunnies. So on this day, he decided he would build me one that could be folded up on the wall when not in use. A Murphy desk.

Out he went into our garage with his trusty sidekick, Kiddo, in tow. I heard the saw blades spin and the power tools whirl. Kiddo came back in. Kiddo went back out. Kiddo left the door open. Repeatedly. Whirl. Mommy went a little insane.

Not to be outdone, LT joined the fun, as did Her Royal Highness (the dog) too. LT fell down. Mommy kissed boo-boos. HRH decided to trot down the street and visit the neighbors. Mommy got a call. Mommy wasn’t so sure she wanted this desk any longer.

Then, after several hours of holding what smidgen of rationality remained in my brain together, Lamont returned ready to show me the fruits of his labors. There was my new desk in unfinished wooden splendor.

“Uh, that’s not level.” I pointed at the top joint which could better pass as abstract art than as a right angle.

Lamont frowned. “I can fix that,” he said. “But it will need to wait until tomorrow.”

Murphy Desk - #DIY -
It’s wall art! It’s a desk!

The next day came, but the cobbler’s elves either failed to arrive, or they neglected to fix his handiwork overnight. Taking another look at it with fresh eyes, Lamont admitted he was going to need to start from scratch.

Considering it was going to be my desk, meaning I would have to look at it every day, I had no choice but to agree with his assessment even though I knew it meant I would lose my co-parent and general weekend-chore-sharer to the garage once again.

The second try was much more successful and soon the desk was ready for finishing. This time Lamont invited LT to help as it was a painting project. What’s the worst that could happen? White, child-sized footprints adorned my steps. Even better, paint covered my boy’s body from head to cheek as he’d chosen to work on his masterpiece in only a pair of briefs.

I was forced to drop everything except the wiggling paint monster in order to scrub him down in an impromptu bath. As LT splashed about, I realized my husband had stumbled on the most genius plan imaginable for getting out of his standard weekly honey-do list. He’d gotten to play all day in the garage for the last two weeks, and I couldn’t complain as it was all being done for me.

Or at least I thought it was his most genius plan.

It turns out he had one better.

Flash forward. I completed the early drafts of my manuscript, a sequel to The Fair & Foul at the end of October. I knew I needed to let it sit and simmer before I attempted any further re-writes, but I also knew how strong the temptation would be to dive in and start on the edits anyway. Determined not to succumb and edit too early, I enlisted Lamont’s help as an alpha reader. Every day was a challenge not to ask him what he thought until he was done. “I’m at 10%,” he’d advise. “20%. 35.” To him, it was breakneck progress. To me, it was grueling.

The weekend came around again. Lamont held up his Kindle. “85%,” he announced. The children started to bounce off the walls. “I’ve got to finish it.” He disappeared. Sigh. Speaking of percents, it is probably the only time I wasn’t 100% thrilled to hear I’d written something someone didn’t want to put down, but even so, it was still better to hear than the alternative.

I’m happy to report I now have my weekend helper back, which means that I will soon be able to move forward with edits once again. With any luck (and maybe a little more help from my supportive spouse), I might just be able to publish this book next year. And that’s certainly a problem worth having.

What to do when the cloud is not your friend

Unfriendly Cloud

You take a road trip but aren’t asked to drive. You have nothing but time on your hands as you sit in the backseat for the twelve-hour drive. You are amazed to realize the car is actually quiet. You’d left the kids at home. There are no small people complaining about the need for snacks and a potty break every twenty feet. No arguments about someone’s elbow extending too far over the shared armrest or whose turn it is to pick the movie. You’d almost forgotten how travel, sans children, could be.

You think, I’d better take advantage of this rare opportunity to write. With that kind of uninterrupted time, you are bound to make some significant headway into your neglected manuscript.

You put in your ear buds and start typing. After a few false starts the words start flowing and they are beautiful. You know that deep down these are scenes that are going to somehow survive through editing relatively intact. Thousands and thousands of words later, you press the save button. A message box opens up. Upload pending.

Ah, that’s right. There is no WiFi in the car and you have your word processing program set up to sync automatically to the cloud, a precaution you took after you nearly lost a portion of your previous manuscript to your aging computer’s blue screen of death. You click a few more buttons and shut the computer down. The writer’s euphoria stays with you for the rest of the day. Man, that scene was awesome. You daydream about future glowing reviews. You start actually looking forward to editing if only to bring the rest of your draft up to the same high standard.

The next day you wake up refreshed having actually slept in your own bed once again. After the colossal effort from the previous day, you think today might let yourself off with a light writing day. Maybe catch up on a blog or two, or possibly write a piece of flash fiction for a contest, but first, you want to make sure you sync your previous day’s writing to the cloud.

You open your word processor. A message box opens. “Would you like to sync?”

Yes please, you think to yourself. A progress bar opens. As you watch the bar fill, your eyes happen to notice the side bar navigation. Funny, I am pretty sure there were more chapter headings there yesterday. You scroll down as the file completes its upload. No other chapter headings are shown. Odd. You start feeling bile build in your stomach as you jump to the last page in the file.

“I think I found stairs.”

It wasn’t the glorious last line you knew would keep your readers turning the page. No. They are the last words you wrote three days ago, the last words that were synced with the cloud before your road trip. You’d forgotten the function works in both directions. Fudge (except, like in the Christmas Story, you aren’t thinking fudge).

What to do now?

  1. Click on File>Recover Unsaved Version.
  2. Stare at the resulting message box declaring no unsaved versions while remaining in denial.
  3. Open up every single file folder remotely related to your document in search of anything at all with the word Backup in the name.
  4. Finding nothing, go online and search for any hacker tips out there that might allow you to somehow recover previous keystrokes.
  5. Whimper as you realize you are in over your head.
  6. While remaining in denial, notify your loved one of your tragedy on the off-chance they might be able to somehow wave a magic wand and bring your work back.
  7. Cry.
  8. Pour yourself another cup of coffee.
  9. Consider if it would be okay under the circumstances to spike said cup of coffee though it is before 9am.
  10. Consider throwing up.
  11. Return to the manuscript while giving yourself the whole, you wrote it once, you can write it again pep talk.
  12. Remind yourself that you are a terrible liar.
  13. Cry some more.
  14. Recognize that the diet is ruined and eat a cookie.
  15. Write something entirely different, maybe an attempt at a blog post so that others might share in your pain; someone, at least, ought to be laughing.
  16. Return to the scene of the crime (because that is what it is, cloud, that’s what it is!)
  17. Stare at your cursor.
  18. Sigh.
  19. Drain your cup of un-doctored coffee (pat yourself on the back for remaining strong).
  20. Start writing once more.