Wednesday, May 2, 2007
A Perilous Cliff: The Dangers of Couples Writing Together
Well, it’s official. My husband and I, in our—ho ho—spare time, have decided to write a book together. Still in the planning stages, mind you, but Jeff has some very definite ideas about what he wants it to be.
We don’t intend to sit side by side at the computer (although that would be adorable); rather, Jeff will outline all his ideas, I will flesh out a chapter, and then he will mark it up with all of his changes. Sounds okay, right?
But I’m reminded of our first married adventure: hanging wallpaper together. We had, at the time, a giant bedroom in our condominium, and I had chosen a lovely forest green wallpaper with a pattern on it. Later we learned that patterns are deadly: you have to match them, and they have to be straight.
Imagine these scenarios: a couple going to war together, stuck in the same trench while bullets scream past their heads; or maybe a couple trapped in a jungle, being hunted by a wild animal, forced to face inevitable grisly death. Stressful, right? No. Child’s play, compared with hanging wallpaper with your spouse. Between the awful gook we had to dip the long sheets in, the ladder we had to climb, and the little shovels we had to use to smooth out the bubbles—all of which had to be done pronto, before anything dried—there were lots of swear words. Truckers would have blushed and lowered their eyes in the face of the things we were yelling at each other. One of us would decide that the other’s work wasn’t straight, and then the whole sticky, messy thing had to be peeled off the wall and re-gooped. I was practically in tears on several occasions, and halfway through we were pretty sure our marriage was over. Visions of divorce lawyers were dancing in our heads.
Somehow we got the wallpaper up. Somehow it dried and looked okay, and we ended up really liking it. But getting to that point? We almost didn’t make it.
Now I think about writing a book. Is it more difficult than hanging wallpaper? Is it advisable for a couple to attempt this sort of thing? For one thing, I work harder than my husband (which we both admit), and this could immediately become a bone of contention. If we were both animals, I’d be some ambitious creature—a bird, maybe—and my husband would be more like a sloth, or a cat. Something that sleeps all day, or at least reads the paper for long periods of time. In my husband’s mind, tomorrow is always the best time to get something done. In mine, it should have been done yesterday.
Granted, I’ll probably die first because of the stress involved with this mindset, but I’m going to try to have a nice library of books to my name before that happens. My husband joked last night that his tombstone will read, “What’s on TV?”
So the great book experiment should be interesting. Hopefully we won’t have to drag the children in as referees—they can be bought off, I fear, and that won’t help us to accomplish anything.
Posted by Julia Buckley at 6:25 PM