One of my clients, Ryan Spires, author of RISE OF RAULET, is joining us today to talk about how his wife wasn’t his number one fan. I’m his developmental editor. Take it away, Ryan.
Like most married writers, I had a fantasy about my spouse. I’m not talking about that kind of fantasy (that’s a different blog post), I’m referring to her being my number one editor/fan/co-conspirator/etc. Someone I could bounce ideas off, challenge genre standards, discuss meta-analysis of key works, and above all, be moved by my writing. I’m talking soul-shaking, transformative, single tear type of stuff. Okay. Maybe that’s a little dramatic, but you get the idea.
I handed her the innards of my second manuscript and asked for her feedback. What part will she focus on? I had crafted many emotional scenes, interwoven in what I thought were complex interpersonal relationships. What characters will she identify with, and want to know more about? How much will she lament over the death of . . . the curiosity ate me alive.
She read it, looked at me, and asked, “When you say that Bryce has big hands, how big are they?”
I don’t know if my jaw actually dropped, but it should have. Of all of the things she could have focused on, she picked that detail. That detail. One that, to me, wasn’t important. Negligible. Up to the reader. To be fair, I mentioned his hands numerous times, symbolizing his power. As a visual-focused reader, the exact details (how big were these big hands?) was an important element to her.
I set her up for failure. I built up grand expectations and just asked for general feedback. She responded with a legitimate, honest question. I tried to respond neutrally and hide my disappointment. We repeated this awkward dance a second and third time in successive weeks.
My next manuscript sat on her nightstand. Dust settled on it. I eyed it. It grew heavier. Still she didn’t read it. Did she have zero interest in my greatest passion? Bitterness clawed from deep, dark places. Finally, she read it after some gentle prodding. Her reaction was generally good, but she didn’t say much about it.
Like a prototypical man, I shut down and didn’t really discuss my writing further. I didn’t want to confront the idea of her indifference toward my writing. As I got closer to finishing Rise of Raulet, I couldn’t take it anymore and point-blank asked if she had ANY interest in my book, or my writing.
Little did I know, she had watched me very carefully when I had responded to her initial inquires, and picked up on the fact that I wasn’t happy with those questions. I had actually made my wife reluctant to talk to me about my writing, for fear of asking me the “wrong” question.
Ouch. I did that. I created that caustic environment with my pre-conceived expectations and unprepared perspective.
I learned a lot from this as both a writer and spouse.
You never know what a particular reader is going to glom onto when they read your work. Sometimes it’s even the negative space, the picture you may or may not have intended to paint, and that’s okay. Allow them to experience the story the way they want to. There isn’t a right or wrong way. When you allow someone to read your story, you’re surrendering it to them. It’s theirs to interpret as they will.
After further honest dialogue, we found a method that works. I finish writing a chapter and send it to her. She reads it and we discuss it soon after. She’s engaged with what I’m working on, and I listen with an open heart and mind. I’ve even incorporated more detail in some of my scenes because of her. It’s enriched my writing and, more importantly, the way we communicate.
There isn’t a manual explaining how to be a supportive spouse of someone who is engaged in the creative arts, or what that creative spouse should expect of the other. I have learned to appreciate the ways she demonstrates her love and support of my craft.
True, she didn’t fit my preconceived mold, but after all, aren’t molds designed to be broken?
RISE OF RAULET by Ryan Spires
Sybell travels to ancestral homelands to rebuild her family’s keep and reassert the supremacy of her kind, the Acuri, that dominate the mind; turning people into thralls. The end of her nomadic existence means those that mercilessly hunt Acuri will find her.
Their role as hunters of Acuri have defined siblings, Jasper and Marget, since birth. Jasper’s only competition has been swallowing up all of the Iacios, the gifted few who can shield them from Acuri. A southern warlord won’t grant Jasper a contract to hunt Acuri without an Iacio. A young and powerful Iacio arrives in town, but something is stalking her.
Andreu’s false brothers burned his family and put him to the sword for murders he didn’t commit. A spirit weaver raises him from the dead, granting a chance at vengeance. However, the spirit weaver has plans of her own and, should he resist, the spirits of his family are at risk.
Four souls vying to recapture a vital part of their identity. They begin in isolation, but providence will bear witness to their collision.
Ryan was born in 1979 in Minnesota. As a child Ryan didn’t particularly enjoy reading, until his brother suggested he give R. A. Salvatore’s The Crystal Shard a shot. That sparked a lifelong love of reading, especially fantasy stories. His own forays into writing were sporadic up to college.
After earning a BA in psychology from the University of Minnesota at Morris, the idea of writing his own novels became more persistent and Ryan began writing more frequently, eventually attending conferences, finding a writing group, and waking up every morning two hours early to work on writing.
In July of 2015, he published his first novel, Rise of Raulet.
Ryan lives in Saint Paul, MN with his wife, Rachael, and their cat, Pants.
Link to RISE OF RAULET on Amazon:
I want to thank Ryan for stopping by today and sharing a little bit about his journey to publication. If you have any questions for Ryan, post them below and he’ll respond.
Next week, I’ll post my Pitch Wars stats so you can see a breakdown of the submissions I received, how many full manuscripts I requested, and more.