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Apr 22

Susan Shiney

How I Support my Wife’s Writing Life

As a writer's partner I sometime feel that there is not much I can do to improve Susan's writing. I am an IT man. I like downhill mountain biking as well as other mountain biking activities. I like cars and motorcycles… So in some ways I am the stereotype of the male figure. In some ways only, because as the "man" of the house I am suppose to provide for my family and yet Susan provides for both of us right now. How? Well, she has the energy to go to work 5 days a week to teach English, pretty much 41 weeks of the year.

For me, it's all about energy and how much energy I can put or want to put at doing something. So going to work the way Susan - and most people - do is way too much energy taking out of me for the reward (mostly the paycheck). I am not underskilled but I do think in France IT workers could be paid way more than they do but for political reasons (not economical reasons) it does not. So I could fight it, or accept it, or not work at all. For now I choose not to work at all.

But you might think: "how is that fair for Susan?" Well if I stop the story right now it's not fair, for sure. Here is how it goes in my family. Susan spends 35 hours a week at work + 7.5 hours on commute time the best weeks or 15 hours of the worst weeks. Commute time is a very important variable, because it's time wasted/used to go to work and not allocated for other stuff such as writing. Then like any human being Susan needs to sleep 7 to 10 hours a night. Also like other human being she needs to rest and enjoy herself. Cummulated there is not much time to actually write. And as you, readers, know writing isn't just typing (or actually writing by hand if you are - very - old school). Writers need space and time to think about what to write and how to do so.

So here starts my support. The hours people spend to live are not just those where they commute, work and rest. There is also cooking, groceries and other house keeping tasks. I used to think it's not that much, but Susan made me feel and think another way. And these are directly related to my "energy theory". Basically, it take less energy from Susan to commute and work than doing the tasks I do. As well as it takes more energy for me to commute and work than it takes me to keep the house in order. Of course for most people they have to work AND do their house keeping and for those people, well… it sucks. Not to mention the time people have to allocate to their kids if they are parents.

I support Susan by doing the stuff she hates. Fortunately for me, the stuff she hates does not bother me much to deal with. I want to clarify what house keeping is to us. It involves cleaning the floors pretty much once a week, taking care of the dishes, cooking 2 meals a day for 2 people. Breakfast is the only meal Susan has to take care of. For breakfast, usually everything is ready, she just has to put it together. I do the laundry entirely as well.

I would say that everyone wants to have this fantasy of getting extremely rich or winning the lottery. The thing with the lottery is your chances are really small. But, by helping your partner be a writer you have way more chance to actually do, it it is not a random number you check on a paper, you are helping someone with their writing. And, if it doesn't happen, well winning the lottery doesn't happen for people neither, but it is way more meaningful. It is the way I would try to convince someone that it is not a waste. I don't really get the fact that someone would not help their partner. I mean she supports me with my mountain biking which is kind of expensive. I think it benefits everyone to help an artist to do their artist thing, and I am extremely number oriented and I am thinking that if she were a motorcross enthusiast part of me would be happy, but money wise it is not possible right now. What I mean is: it's nice that writing is not an expensive hobby.

Writing isn't totally free. She takes classes, buys books, and will be paying editors, etc. But, it is a safe gambling, again if it doesn't work your partner is really happy to even try.

Sometimes she gets stressed out about her blog or a writing deadline, I tell her it is fun and she shouldn't give herself so much pressure, because no one is expecting anything from her for now.

I also help her with her blog and website by helping with some formatting code on wordpress and by updating the blog itself. It takes a couple of hours every month.

I take pictures for websites and Susan used some of them on hers. One time in Dunkirk during the autumn vacation, we went outside and took some pictures of the city at night and she was very pleased with the texture of the sand and put it on her homepage.

I am happy to feel helpful and taking photographs or doing code for her website is a physical way to help her, it is something we can both see and identify.

When I see her writing I feel happy for her and I envy her because she is so commited to it. Personally, I am not that commited to anything. I learn stuff about IT, but in set periods. I have periods where I am biking when the weather conditions are optimal. But, she writes all year long and there is nothing I do all year long. So, I am proud of her.

Nicolas Sery has a Linux blog in French here: https://linux-note.com/

Does your life partner support your writing?

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