Saturday, November 26, 2011


By Reece Hirsch

Like most writers, I am thankful for my agent, for being published and for the readers who take the time to spend a few hours with my book. But, above all else, I’m thankful for my wife Kathy for supporting and tolerating my writing. The spouses/partners of writers are the unsung heroes of the bookish world. In fact, every literary award from the Edgars to the Nobel Prize should add a category for them – Best Supporting Spouse.

The Supporting Spouse award would be given not based on the quality of the book, but rather on the degree of egomania, insecurity and neediness of the writer in question. I don’t know who would win that award this year -- although I do have a few educated guesses. I do know, however, that the category would be hotly contested each and every year.

For many books that are written, whether published or unpublished, there is a spouse who has:

* spent dinner conversations mulling a thorny plot point (in my case, how best to kill someone, a topic which always seems to alarm the diners at the next table);

* said, when needed, that the book was fantastic (even when they knew that it was still half-baked);

* managed to indicate that an element or chapter wasn’t working without inflicting psychic trauma;

* tolerated a constant air of distraction, particularly during the final month or two;

* padded out the crowd at a poorly attended reading;

* indulged detours while on vacation to scout book locations; and

* made the sacrifice of letting the writing spouse spend hundreds of hours sitting in front of a computer polishing a manuscript and living with one foot in another world.

And so I give thanks this Thanksgiving for my wife Kathy, who, in addition to her countless other lovely qualities, is the best, shrewdest and kindest reader and editor any writer could ask for.


Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thank you, Reece, for calling attention to the long suffering writer's spouse! My husband has done all those things, plus laughed at every joke in the book (unprompted and sometimes multiple times), listened to me read aloud every book (while I stop in the middle of sentences and mutter and cross stuff out and wander down plot ideas), and many times sent me off to write while he took care of the house, the kid, the cat, the whatever.

I should give him a SHELF of awards.

Great post!

Reece said...

Thanks, Becky! The writer's spouse also deserves extra credit for having to read a manuscript while being scrutinized by the writer and having to answer questions like, "Why did you laugh?" and "Why are you frowning?"

Rebecca Cantrell said...

So true, Reece! I hate to admit how many times I've done that. I'm amazed they put up with us at all.

Michael Wiley said...

My wife's "favorite" moments are when -- during her reading of a manuscript -- I ask, "Where are you now? How's it going?" and she's forced to answer, "Five sentences beyond where I was when you last asked . . . and it's going about the same as it was then."

A great post, Reece.

Reece said...

Michael & Becky -- It seems that no matter what kind of books we write, we all have one thing in common -- we drive our spouses nuts.

Rebecca Cantrell said...


I prefer to view the thing we have in common is that we were wise enough to pick wonderful spouses. It just sounds better, right Michael?