I just finished The Writing Life by Annie Dillard – beautifully written and from a perspective that poses book writing as an intense effort that takes 2-10 years and requires a cabin on a remote island.
Writing is outside of life, writing is for the lone artist – that’s one pole on the writing spectrum, and I don’t doubt it can work this way. I just write from the other end. My writing is a part of the life I live and the people I live with. As of today, I’ve sold 415 books, which nets me another beer, according to the binding terms of my book sale bet, but in an act of hope (and a desire not to track these numbers for a little while), I plucked another from the six-pack to share with my husband, Matt.
Interview, Take One
Beth: What’s worse – being married to a writer or a lawyer?
Matt: That’s easy. I don’t really like lawyers.
B: Do you like writers?
M: I only know one.
B: What’s it like being married to the one you know?
M: The writer I know goes to sleep very early and gets up super early. You do make my coffee in the morning, but at 4AM. By the time I get up, I have to microwave it. It’s 60% of what it was.
B: This sounds like a huge hassle for you.
M: It literally doesn’t change my life at all.
B: You’ve read Lu twice. Is it a book for dudes?
M: It has some good tips about what girls like. There’s a couple mentions of double pepperoni pizza. I never thought you’d write about something like that because you don’t like pepperoni. This makes me think that deep down you really do. I’m optimistic that maybe sometime I’ll get you to eat this pizza.
B: Lu is a work of fiction.
M: There isn’t any fiction that’s not inspired by real life.
** At this point, we shut down the interview because I didn’t appreciate Matt’s attitude. It was 10PM, and he reminded me he’d had a full day. I did not accept his excuses. He reminded me he’s an introvert who likes to think before he answers. I did not accept his excuses. He suggested I email him my questions. Fine. **
Interview, Take Two
B: So when you’re married, and one of you does something, it’s like you’re both doing it. This goes back to the “one flesh” bit you’re always harping to me about. I’ll often say “we” went to law school. Do you feel like “we” wrote Lu?
M: I feel like part of my life is in Lu. I believe that I have experienced some of the ups and downs that happened in the book, but as far as actual writing? No, I don’t feel like I did that – because I didn’t. That was all you on your laptop at your various writing places.
B: I put the book down for several years. Did you think I’d ever get back to it? What, in your mind, did I have to overcome to get back to it?
M: Yes, I always thought you would get back to it. Before we even married I was sure you would accomplish “big” things. So, I was like, yeah, write a book. At the time you weren’t writing, I thought maybe you weren’t working on it because you didn’t believe in yourself – but now looking back, I think the timing wasn’t right. Sometimes God puts a desire into our heart and even shows us a place we will go – but many times, he has a lot of work to do on us before we are ready to go there. The extent of his grace is incomprehensible.
B: What did it look like to help/support me while I wrote Lu?
M: I always believed it was something you would do, so I guess that is some kind of support. Supporting someone who is writing a book is weird though – it’s kind of like a black box. You know something is happening, but you can’t really see it. it’s not like I can just help out. I can’t write a chapter for you on a day when you are sick.
B: Sure you can, so long as you don’t write it like you wrote the Troy Christmas card that one year. What stood out to you when you first read the Lu?
M: Reading the book was fun for me on a lot of levels. Unlike most readers, I could guess at the inspiration for a lot of little parts of the book. Some were not surprising to me, but some things were – just little things really. I was surprised that there was a baseball scene – because you don’t like baseball. I was surprised that Lu likes double pepperoni pizza – because you don’t like pepperoni. I was not surprised Lu is a coffee snob, because…. well… I guess that includes both of us.
B: You’re the original Troy coffee snob. You came into the marriage a french press. I was caffeine-free until I met you. Who’s your favorite character?
M: I will take the surprising answer here – and say John! I can identify personally with pressures going on in his life – I hope his story isn’t done yet. He has an honesty to him that is admirable even though he’s not really the “boy” you are rooting for.
B: Do you have any predictions for Lu2?
M: Oh yeah, I have all kinds of predictions for Lu2. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but I will go on record predicting that there will be a happy ending.