I was beat the other night, and my husband Aaron was playing a computer game (and therefore wouldn’t have noticed if I had burst into flames, shed all my clothes, grown a second head or all of the above), so I picked up a novel for a few minutes of mental vacation. Surprisingly, Aaron asked about it. I started describing it, telling him something like how it was fluid and poetic and was an interwoven story about the lives of several women linked to two central characters, touching on theater, the biblical narrative of King David and an eccentric family life. I got all excited and began telling him about a particular writing strategy she employed that I wanted to try with a current work. In fact, I said, I have to go make some notes – and at this point I bounded out of bed and fired up my computer.
He looked at me as though I had just finished enumerating the merits of cleaning the port-o-heads at the State Fair.
Now I am unimaginably fortunate to have an intelligent, long-suffering husband who is willing to discuss with me (or listen to me discuss) just about any issue under the sun, even when I feel compelled to hold forth on my political passions at 2 a.m. But it’s at times like this that I really appreciate the connections I have to other writers. Who else gets honestly excited about parallels I see between the novel The Hours and tactics I’d like to use in my current nonfiction work? For that matter, who gets so abjectly offended at misuses of grammar, or bemoans tired plot devices, or understands why I had to ask an interview subject what color his coffee cup was or what, exactly, he said to the friend who just betrayed him? I may be overstepping boundaries to put myself in league with some of the writers I know, but I do know it’s darn refreshing to spend time talking shop.
The coffee cup, by the way, was orange with green stripes. He didn’t remember what he said in that life-altering moment, but assures me it was memorable.