Guest post by Jennifer Sienes
Jennifer Sienes, one of Karen’s clients, is a talented fiction writer who according to editors has a gift for bringing out the emotional power of the scene. She was recently named as a finalist in the 2014 Genesis contest with her novel Redemption.
You can find out more and read her blog at www.jennifersienes.com
I’ve been reading the Steve Laube Agency blog for years—long before Karen Ball signed me as a client. It’s where I receive advice, encouragement and the tools to better my craft. So, I’m well aware this is a blog for writers, but I hope you’ll allow me the leeway to speak to a larger audience here—those who live with a writer—spouses, this means you.
I attended my first writer’s conference in 2008, and Debbie Macomber was the keynote speaker. The title of her talk was How to Become an Overnight Success in Twenty Years. This was impactful on many levels. Her words not only gave me encouragement and took some of the pressure off—I thought I’d be on my way in a year—but when I shared it with my husband, Chris, he understood the time and commitment it would take to follow God’s call.
In response, he became my greatest writer’s tool.
At this point, he’d already encouraged me to leave a teaching career to give writing a fair chance. I realize this is not an option for some, but I was blessed with a husband who believes my writing is a ministry—one in which the payout may not be financial. Okay, let’s get real, most of us don’t write for the money. But if we’re in God’s will, the blessings far outweigh monetary compensation.
But Chris’s support goes far beyond the financial. It’s the day-to-day things that matter—understanding how imperative it is that I adhere to a regular writing schedule and not get sidetracked with those pesky tasks, such as yard work and house cleaning. As long I stay on top of the dust bunnies, it’s all good.
When I struggle to find the perfect words to write a blog or flesh out a scene, he makes suggestions—not always helpful, but the intent is pure, and I love that about him. As a chiropractor with a busy practice, he hands out more of my business cards than I do. A patient curious about what I do, he sends them to my website. Someone in need of a spiritual pick-me-up, he suggests my blogs.
And then there are the story ideas he throws my way. I have to admit, this isn’t his forte. I write contemporary women’s fiction and his favorite author is Louis L’Amour—which I can attest to by the hundred-plus paperbacks with which he can’t bear to part, like a kid’s baseball-card collection. More often than not, his characters stem from old westerns, or, heaven forbid, a James Bond movie.
And yet, he comes home each night after ten-plus hours at work, eager for me to read what I’ve written. This benefits me in several ways: When I read out loud, my ears often find mistakes my eyes don’t catch; he questions anything that doesn’t make sense (“Did I already know that character, or are you just introducing him?”) which reminds me not everything in my head actually made it into that draft; and I get his pulse on whether the story works. Granted, he isn’t my toughest editor, but it’s not his writing expertise I need—I have a critique partner for that. Instead, I look to him for encouragement.
Writing, in so many ways, is a solitary profession. Many of our friends and family members don’t get what we do. I’m sure, if they could read my mind, they’d swear I have a form of schizophrenia—all those people living inside my head. And I’m okay with that. As long as my husband understands, encourages and supports me, I can persevere through the endless hours of sitting, the tedious work of rewrites and the times of disappointment and failure.
Because, in the end, my successes will be all the sweeter for having shared them with him.