Wednesday, April 11, 2012
While I Was Out
I'm on vacation (but still working on Jamie's book, Bad Attitude) so my wife offered to do a guest blog to free up my brain. Isn't she awesome? She has a message for all the writers' spouses.
My name is Kathy. As an early birthday present, I've given KA the week off so I'll be your guest blogger. I want to clear something up before we start, I am not a writer, but I am here to tell you a bit of what it's like to to be the spouse of one. When I tell people who my wife is or what she does for a living, I get the usual responses of "really," "wow," or "cool," but I I guess my favorite response is "I bet it's a lot of fun to live with an author."
Well, I have to say for the most part it is. Though you have to remember I don't just share my life with KA, but with her comes Joey and Aaron and Kim and Shane and--whoever she's writing about now. But for the most part it is a fun time, that is, until...the DEADLINE.
Now there are few words that can bring the strongest of souls to their knees, but for the spouse of an author, the word deadline is worse than staring down Satan in the bowels of hell. This one simple word has the power to turn a calm, creative, sensitive artist into the Hyde part of Dr. Jeckyll. Imagine the maiden voyage of the Titanic. Everyone starts out happy, excited and enjoying the journey, when from out of nowhere, the iceberg--the deadline rears its ugly head. Before you know it, the peaceful voyage has turned into a panicked, stressful struggle to make it to the end on time.
Since picking up and moving to the local YMCA is not an option, the cats and I have devised a code of survival. Each day, starting two weeks before the deadline, the cats will hang one of three colored signs in the window before I return from work. The yellow sign indicates stress is moderate, and I should proceed cautiously. Quiet tip-toeing, light household chores, a prepared dinner delivered to her office and quiet viewing of Spongebob are all acceptable. The orange sign indicates a high level of stress. This means under no circumstance should Spongebob be on, chores should stop, meals of non-perishable items are quietly left outside office door and I am to only quietly lie in bed reading.
The final color is red. At this stage you can smell the stress and panic a mile away. This is, thank god, a short-lived stage which occurs when the time to deadline can be counted in hours. During this Code Red, one should avoid contact with the writer at all costs. Sleep in the garage or backyard. Do not approach asking, "So how's it going?" This apparently simple question provokes the response one might expect when trying to take dinner away from a starving lion. Instead, do three consequetive spin classes at the local gym, have a root canal, or volunteer as a crash test dummy. Just stay clear of the Code Red.
When the deadline has been met, you may return home with flowers and an offer to take the writer out to dinner to celebrate the completion of another book. Above all, when your writer asks, "I hope I wasn't too cranky while I was trying to meet my deadline," one should smile and respond, "Not at all, dear. You were a pleasure as always."
For other insights into being the spouse of an author (and my thoughts about being her lackey, the TV show Survivor, and biking) you can follow me on Twitter @acrkal8.