Tag Archives: blogging

The Novelist’s Wife Speaks Out

To wrap up my series on writers and their secret worlds, I’d like to share with you the thoughts of Amanda Palmer, a musician who happens to be married to a writer whose secret world is as big as they come: Neil Gaiman.

I’ve always had a deep and abiding respect for Neil Gaiman. His work brings to mind Hemingway’s Iceberg Theory: seven-eighths of the meaning is hidden beneath the surface. Reading him is like dipping your toe into what you think is a puddle but turns out to be an entire freaking ocean. That is the most important quality a writer can have, in my opinion. The power of subtext, the ability to say things by not saying them.

Amanda Palmer isn’t like that. As an artist she admits she’s often very literal, not well-versed in metaphor, The Queen of Feelings. The experiences of her life go into a blender on low speed and come out only slightly pureed. She’s not afraid to repurpose her life for the sake of her art.

When Neil Gaiman was writing his latest book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, he read it aloud to his wife each night before bed. To her it was terrifying and beautiful but ultimately, just a story. When the galleys came in, and she could read it for herself, she started to see the meaning behind the words, but it wasn’t until her husband patiently explained the significance of the story that it finally hit her. This was a glimpse into the secret world of the man she loved.

I just started The Ocean at the End of the Lane last night, so I only know what the few glowing reviews I’ve read reveal, but I do know this: it’s personal. Amanda traces it back to a moment the two of them shared–or more accurately, failed to share. Neil wanted to tell her something, something personal, but she had a new song budding in her head so she asked him to wait until she could get it out on piano. Later on, when she was ready, the moment had passed. The window into her husband’s secret world had shut with them trapped on opposite sides.

Neil writes on the dedication page:

For Amanda, who wanted to know.

And Amanda writes, in the blog post:

one thing i have learned, being an artist married to another artist:
you cannot separate the self from the relationship and you cannot separate the relationship from the work.
call it poison, or call it the muse.

I’m very conscious of what I choose to share about my marriage here on my blog, but in my writing, my fiction? Anything’s game. I’ve been writing about crap that’s happened to me even before I knew it was happening.

Marriage? It’s traumatic. It knocks you upside the head, knocks you flat, even when you think you’re ready for it. It’s two completely separate lives trying to merge. Things are going to break. People don’t tell you about that. Going into it, you think you’re immune to those kinds of problems.

So I know my marriage is going to come through in my writing, because everything does. I can’t help it. I write about relationships, and marriage is the ultimate relationship. When I write about someone’s feelings getting hurt, I will pull from my memory of stored emotions. Ditto falling in love, feeling misunderstood, feeling drawn to someone you shouldn’t like, resenting someone you should. And if these feelings are produced by my marriage, so be it. I’m thankful that I’m able to feel and express the wide range of human emotion, able to make sense of it, able to relate to others and make connections.

But I’m not going to write about it on my blog. Not in any deep and meaningful way, not without permission from my husband. He’s not an artist. He’s not interested in baring his soul before the world. I’m not going to betray his wishes for something as silly as a blog. Even Amanda Palmer, The Queen of Feelings, has come to the same conclusion:

…but our *actual* relationship…the feelings and fevers and discussions and layers of attachment and complication underneath…that’s….for us. our close friends follow the intimacies of this strange journey we’re on with each other. but it’s not for the blog, it’s not really for the public.

Go read her post, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane (A Book & Marriage Review).” Very rarely do I come across something that resonates with me so deeply. (And she’s not even a Neil Gaiman fan. How incomprehensible.)

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Filed under books, writing

Hey There, You Found Me!

To all the new people rolling in, I just wanted to take a moment and say:

Welcome!

I am but a humble writer, who about a month ago got this crazy idea to start publishing stuff on the Internet. Other people do it all the time, so why can’t I?

Oh, that’s right. I don’t finish stuff.

Failure nips at my heels. I steep it in hot water and sip it over the morning paper–to build an immunity I like to claim but more likely so that I don’t get any bright ideas. People have success, tis true. Just other people. Not people like me.

But because I go crazy if I don’t, I continue my sad and lonely practice of writing, and lo and behold some people start noticing. I don’t know who these people are, but they like my posts and they click the follow button and so, I think, maybe there’s something to this. It’s not a nail driven into the wall full of rejection letters, not nearly. (I don’t have the fortitude for that just yet.) “Like” is so much more agreeable-sounding than “rejection.” Maybe people do like me; maybe I’m just kidding myself. Either way, I keep writing, because that’s what I do. My world is chaos without writing.

And then out of nowhere the right people find my stuff and all of a sudden, I have this thing thrust at me that I can’t rightly call a failure.

What is this thing? It’s shiny, and weird, with smooth edges and colorful buttons. It’s comments about things I came up with, way beyond the basic, “Like your post!” It’s engagement, it’s communication, it’s validation. It’s connections with real people, which take my little self-indulgent hobby and give it a purpose. Hey Jordan. There’s people out there who think like you do. With things to say about subjects you find important. And they want to have a conversation.

This thing might be, though I’m not going to get my hopes up because after a month there’s no way I’ve arrived–still have a long way to go to prove myself there–this little shiny new thing might just be a little piece of success.

So thank you, readers, and commenters (especially commenters!) And thank you WordPress for featuring my post “Writing Without A Map: In Which I End Up Exactly Where I’m Supposed to Be” on today’s Freshly Pressed. It’s just the sort of encouragement a fledgling writer needs to keep at it. Because Lord knows writers face enough rejection as it is.

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Filed under Housekeeping, writing