View Full Version : Rejection about writing....of a more personal flavor

08-09-2004, 06:21 PM
Hi everyone!

I'm not sure if this belongs in this section, but I thought I'd ask your advice on this...

What do you do when you have little support about your writing on the homefront? My spouse still wishes I have a "9-to-5" job and his manner of support is...nonsupport. It can be a real struggle, especially after getting rejections for my short stories and poetry!



08-09-2004, 08:14 PM
I think most writers have other things they do. I have a job. Would like to have another one, as the first one is part-time. But I'd still have time for writing because at this point I don't spend 8 hours a day writing.

From my limited understanding of the career path of writing, it's not something that a lot of people buy mansions on, so alternate income is usually welcome. Having a job might also help with building characters and stories.

You didn't say whether or not you had children. If not, then find a job and work in the writing during breaks and lunches and then at home. With children, it's not so easy. I know. I'm a SAHD. But thank God for naps and Matchbox cars! And laptops, or in my case, a PDA with a fold-up keyboard.

That said, you could use the example of Dean Koontz, who says that his wife gave him five years to become successful or start flipping burgers. I'm not sure how many of those years he used up, but he does all right now, I expect. I know I've put a couple of meals on his table for him.

In life, it's give and take, so if you're hubby wants some take, afterwards let there be give. I'll bet he has hobbies, too.

Hope this gives you some comfort and some ideas.


08-09-2004, 11:03 PM
sad facts of life... what's more important to you, your writing or your marriage?... sure, maybe you shouldn't have to make a choice, but that's what happens when you hook up with someone else, right?... everything then has to be a joint decision, or at least ok with the other... sounds like what you're doing is a unilateral choice and facing stiff opposition...

since you only mention short stories and poems, i wonder if you're being entirely realistic about writing as a career... very little money is paid for poems and short stories, you know... and there is so much competition for spots in the best-paying venues that you have to be very, very good to have even a slim chance of landing one... poems don't even pay pocket change, and short stories won't pay the rent, unless and until you get a major rep and your work is sought...

i'm sorry to be dashing cold water on your hopes here, but as a mother of many, and mother substitute for countless others, it looked like a slice of reality might be needed... others have given you some good advice above... my best bit is for you to take a realistic look at what your dreams consist of and be honest enough to decide if they're attainable right now, and worth the cost to your relationship...

if it will help, i'll be glad to take a look at your work and let you know if it's marketable quality or not... if it is, perhaps a neutral positive opinion will help your helpmate to see that it's worth your doing it...

love and hugs, maia

08-10-2004, 04:09 AM
I guess I need to be clearer...I was referring more to emotional support. When all you hear is how writing isn't going to amount to anything (from a spouse not connected with the literary world) it becomes really difficult to keep writing.

For the record...I have a 15-month-old at home, and I use both my desktop PC and a PDA to write. Also, I do have a part-time job tutoring at-risk kids (I used to teach Language Arts/Writing/ESL to middle schoolers), so I do use it to ground myself in reality. Unfortunately, you guys are both right...writing is a tough business. I've had some poetry published in anthologies, but that's about all. I've also been working on several novel drafts.

I do love my spouse, and he is the "practical, reality-based" personality to give me reality checks now and then. (He's a software engineer, go figure). I was wondering if it was just worth pursuing what he calls "pipe dreams."

I've said enough. Thanks for the advice, guys.


Tish Davidson
08-10-2004, 06:54 AM
With your background in language arts/esl, you might want to search around for some freelance curriculum development work or even copy editing of educational materials to get generate some income. That might convince your spouse that you actually can write, even if it is not creative writing. Or is the issue not income, but spouse's recognition that creative outlets are important to you?

08-10-2004, 10:03 AM
...I didn't read the other posts so if I'm retreading old ground, forgive me. :{>

It's hard to get another person to grasp how important writing is to a would-be writer. I've had a similar problem, and I know a couple of writing friends that have as well. I wonder if it doesn't just come with the territory, perhaps not universally, but seemingly with some frequency.

I say keep dreaming, and if reality intrudes (i.e you have to work beyond the writing), you can dream on the weekends. Or late at night. Or by taking frenzied notes on whatever happens to be handy at the time. I tried to quit, more than once, and it just never took. Again, that seems to be part and parcel from what I've seen and heard.

Something else to consider, on a more personal note: perhaps your SO is, in his own way, trying to shield you from the hurt that comes with rejections. Cause it does hurt, every time, and maybe it's easier for him to wish you wouldn't do this to yourself. Just a thought, of course, and I don't mean to presume. Perhaps I'm projecting... :{>

aka eraser
08-10-2004, 09:35 PM
We all know that writing for publication/money is a tough gig. It's like rowing upstream with a single paddle. It's nice to get support from our nearest and dearest but ultimately success or failure depends on the individual writer. The lack of support might be used a goad to be even more determined to succeed.

I like the possible spin the last poster put on the situation though. Your SO might indeed be trying to spare you pain.

I suspect I'd lay it out something like this: "Honey, writing is important to me and I'm determined to work at it until/if I decide I'm going to quit. It would help me immensely if you gave me a pat on the back and an encouraging word now and then but with or without it, I'm going to continue."

08-11-2004, 06:26 AM
If your spouse is so negative, don't tell him you're writing. From the sounds of it, you're doing plenty of other things to talk to him about. Have a secret life.

I didn't tell my wife about my writing for the same reason. Even when I won a publishing contract for the novel I'd been writing while babysitting my 20-30-month-old (took nine months to squeeze out the novel), she was still very laid back in her praise, mainly because there wasn't any advance involved. No money, no honey. Bummer. But that's life. Takes a lot of fun out of it, I admit.

However, there are lots of other people who are suitably impressed by my triumph. And when you have your first few triumphs, you'll find lots more moral support, too.

Write on.


08-11-2004, 07:45 PM

I suspect most writers have someone in their lives who think writing is a pipe dream. I'm lucky that my hubby is very supportive, but I should note that I was already pretty successful when we met (not so financially successful, but I'd had several things published), so he had some kind of "tangible evidence" that this wasn't just a pipe dream for me.

If I didn't have a publication history behind me, he very well might have discouraged me from this line of work because it is so risky and fraught with emotional lows when the rejections are flowing.

But I digress. Has your husband actually read your work? Is he complaining because he doesn't think your writing is good, or is it just that he thinks it's nearly impossible to break in/make money as a writer?

The first one is devastating; the second one can be overcome. Sure it's a hard business. All creative fields are hard businesses. But tell him to go look in a bookstore and see how many people with pipe dreams HAVE broken in.

08-12-2004, 10:02 PM
The difficulty of partner approval is one we all must deal with if we have a partner. If your husband is completely nonsupportive, you must learn the reason if you want to get him to change. I would guess there could be a variety of reasons, among them a few of the following possibilities:
1. He thinks your writing stinks and wants to keep you from disappointment.:cry
2. He thinks your writing is not paying enough for the effort you're putting in--i.e, he wants to see some income so that he's not the only one making money in the family. Maybe he thinks you're on vacation while he's slaving for the betterment of the family.:money
3. He's afraid if you succeed, you'll be too successful to want him any longer. Will you no longer need him if you're famous?:love
4. He thinks you are working on so many projects, that none can succeed because you can't put enough effort into any one (e.g., those several novels that have been started but none finished). Many "organized" men go after their career this way, and don't see writing as an art, but as a business.
5. He thinks writing is dumb in general, not a real job or career.:nerd
These are but a few possibilities. It may not be bad if any of them are his beliefs--for example, he may not have seen your best work yet. Nor may he read the likes of Hemingway to know what's good or crap to really tell if your work stinks or is fabulous. You should communicate several things to him, however: any one project you do is not reflective of the very best work you are capable of. We can always improve, and writing is nothing if not a journey into self-improvement. You will get better with more writing. You both can accept that. Just like with sports, one must practice, practice, practice if we are someday to win the Heisman trophy. He shouldn't expect perfection yet. So there goes that possibility for his reasonong.
Also, if writing is what you do--I mean, if you are inside, a complete, utter, total writing fool, then you MUST write. You will be incomplete without writing. You will not be happy, you will not enjoy life nor your partner if he cannot share in that part of what you need to do for YOU. If you will be satisfied, satiated, finished writing after you have completed one of your novels, then do it and get on with life. For the rest of us writers, one novel is never enough. I've written four, am on the fifth. My husband is luckily, highly supportive, even though our finances have changed dramatically after me changing from a scientist position to a freelancing-novelist one. He also, however, wants to be with me when I am as famous as Sue Grafton. And, I will be because I am a writer, more than anything else.
Maybe you need to focus, to decide what you need to do in writing first: go about your next project in a professional, organized way: get your office organized, do the research on your next novel, outline it, and begin writing. Do it. :bang Get everything in order and go to it. If he thinks you're not serious, he may have a good reason to be less than supportive. Show him writing is real for you. Start a good, large project and just do nothing else in writing but that project, until it's done. Be the writer. Writers are not really goof-offs :coffee who scratch out a few lines and take the day off. They work, and damn hard, all the time. Most really good ones have a regular schedule for writing; not all of us can do that due to other family and work obligations, but some kind of consistency makes our writing more consistent. Just like with sports. Be the writer and show him it's your heart-felt profession. Figure out what to do to make you happy at writing: i.e., do you need to have a sub stantial income to be a success at writing? do you need to publish magazine articles, newspaper or newsletter articles? Can you get published and appreciated by local writers' groups? Decide how to go after your career in writing, and just do it. Give yourself a deadline to get something submitted ( I used to submitt two queries a week, and worked on a short story or other article as well as continued on the novel of the time. That was a bit spread out for me, but it may work for you). have a plan, to get a published credit by the end of the year. Discuss it with him, but make sure you are flexible enough not to be crushed if it doesn't happen. If it doesn't, analyze why not. Did you submit enough queries? Did you write enough on the novel? Did you take the time to develop that poem or series of prose you wanted? Figure it out and adjust your plan. Keep at it. You will succeed if you continue to improve and don't give up.:thumbs

Well, these are enough comments from a new member to this list! I was sad to see you didn't have enough support--it's hard enough for writers who do--and thought I'd add my two cents' (or maybe $10 worth, by the size of it). Keep writing. any practice is good. A journal, letters to your grandmother, whatever. Don't give up unless you want to. Best wishes and keep us informed! Barbara

08-14-2004, 11:45 AM
Barbara, great insights! Glad you joined us. :clap

08-15-2004, 06:19 AM
Hello again, everyone!

Thanks so much for the advice and the pointers. I had a long heart-to-heart with my husband regarding the subject. He had read some of my work before and since it didn't compare to John Grisham's it wasn't any good. He had been raised with the "strict, Puritan-like work ethic" and had the belief that if your work did not have any tangible, monetary results, then it was in the "hobby" category. Another one of his fears was the one most of you also pointed out: the emotional highs and lows of the business, and the heartbreak of rejection.

It's easier to understand his point of view, once we both weren't so defensive.

Also, I tend to be more disorganized when it comes to novel-writing. I'll be using a more systematic approach with my next project.

As I said before, thanks for the advice and support. I truly appreciate it!


08-15-2004, 04:51 PM
Another thing you might try is turning out a few short pieces for immediate (if small) monetary reward? It soulnds like you have the background to write articles that would bring in one-off payments. That might start getting him on side?

08-25-2004, 03:09 AM
Consider how someone who lives alone must deal with non-support. While we don't have a SO badgering us about the whys and wherefors, we do get the rejection slips and doubts about our capabilities in this business.

One solution that has helped me was taking a writing course where my work was recognized by the other students and the teacher. Apart from being educational and supportive, it was fun! I was with people who shared my interest. I also joined a writer's group that provided some helpful input to support my efforts.

I am also a desktop publisher, so I was able to enjoy the positive feedback provided by a non-profit agency for which I volunteered. Part of the job included writing for their newsletter. This unexpectedly became a full-time position, so it turned out for the best in many ways.

Perhaps there's a non-profit group in your area that could publish your articles in their newsletters. Or if you know how to write press releases, you could offer to do those for them and get published. Once, I suggested doing a regular column for my non-profit employer. This was a mental health agency, so I could pick from many topics. It turned out a bigger success than they anticipated, as the local newspaper editors readily snapped up the free columns.

You wouldn't get paid, obviously, but it would prove your publishability (:eek yes, I know... that's not really a word) to your SO, but more importantly, to yourself.

And, as you prove your abilities, you would win the support of editors who could either pay you for assigned articles, or at the very least, provide you with testimonials.

Hope this works as well for you as it did for me.

Good luck.


08-25-2004, 12:17 PM
Hi, Annie,

I'm glad you sat down with your husband to discuss your feelings about this. That's really important. You have to let your spouse "be in the know." Talk to them about your feelings, because they can't read minds, pick up on body signals, etc. This was a very important lesson I had to learn the hard way.

My husband was likewise unsupportive of my writing career. But there is hope, because he's not that way now. I think once he started seeing some results then he realized it's a viable career to have at home.

However, because you mainly write short fiction and poetry, I will have to agree with Tish and vein's advice to seek some kind of income with writing things based on your experience. I would love to be a novelist and make major bucks with my novels, but until my fiction writing improves and until I start selling books, I'm working as a freelance writer, journalist and writing nonfiction books. I'm still a happy camper. :grin

I will have to disagree with Bob, though. (Sorry, Bob.) The second post he made where you should make your writing life secret isn't one I can support. Just because you are a writer, it doesn't mean you should write in secret. That is just not fair. Would you ask him to make his "career" as an artist, etc., a secret? To do something in secret would imply you are ashamed of it. I know you're not and that would not be the reason, but that hidden meaning is still there. Don't do your writing in secret. Let your husband see how much you enjoy writing and being a writer.

If your writing is not on the same level as John Grisham, as he says, then tell him you need time to improve your craft. There is no way you can learn how to be a better fiction writer unless you keep on writing fiction. You can be a better writer but only if you write.

And, hey, if the bills are paid and no one is starving, then DO NOT GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAM!!!

Good luck. :)


08-26-2004, 11:55 PM
People can't see inside your head. What's real to you may be pipe fantasy to them.

To me your man sounds not just un-supportive, but anit-supportive. Although his view might be that you have the dream and aren't doing the work and getting results. If that's the case, he'll easily be proven wrong.

Be happy. Bear with me if this is a bit strong. I get on a soapboxes when I see spouses say, "Do whatever makes you happy, as long as it pays a certain amount of money, doesn't affect your time with me, or or or...' (Not that that's your situation.)

(edited for brevity)

08-31-2004, 12:19 AM
I will have to disagree with Bob, though. (Sorry, Bob.) The second post he made where you should make your writing life secret isn't one I can support. Just because you are a writer, it doesn't mean you should write in secret. That is just not fair. Would you ask him to make his "career" as an artist, etc., a secret? To do something in secret would imply you are ashamed of it. I know you're not and that would not be the reason, but that hidden meaning is still there. Don't do your writing in secret. Let your husband see how much you enjoy writing and being a writer.

It's not the first time someone has disagreed with me. However, I'll add that I did my writing in secret, when no one was watching, and when I got a publishing contract, I came out, as it were. My reasons for secrecy were different, though: I didn't want to be seen doing something that I didn't know would be successful or not (wasting time), and I prefer to write in privacy.

For whatever reasons someone doesn't want you to write, shoving your laptop full of stories in their face (figuratively speaking, I hope) isn't the best way to live a peaceful life, imo, no matter how wrong it is that they don't support you. Obviously, I don't thrive on conflict.

I'm glad that Annie was able to talk it out with her spouse. Keeping secrets is never the best thing to do in a marriage, even something as harmless as writing a short story.

Best of luck with your hobby/career, Annie.


09-12-2004, 06:22 AM
Hi everyone! Sorry it's been a while since I posted...

There is a good postscript to this story....

Two days ago, I received a letter from the editor of Shemom, a magazine about motherhood. She said that she's planning to publish one of my poems called "Messy Michael" in the December issue! I was ecstatic! :trophy

I showed it to my hubby, and he was speechless for a moment. Then he said, "Wow. Great!" That's about as much emotion as I've gotten from him, but it was genuine. I guess now that I have something "tangible" to show him, he's a lot less likely to dismiss it.

Will keep everyone posted...


aka eraser
09-12-2004, 09:44 AM
Bravo! :clap

09-12-2004, 11:24 AM
WTG, Annie! Huzzah!!! :clap

And, count yourself lucky. Mine just smiles, nods then goes back to whatever it was he was doing. *sigh* :smack