Writer Wins Love Lottery
Because this is a writing blog, there is a writing angle here—perhaps the most important writing advice I can give anyone—but it’s going to be mostly about the smartest decision I ever made, which was to say “I do” 27 years ago today.
I didn’t fall in love with Mac because I knew he would be the most amazing support any writer could ever have. I had no idea of becoming a writer when I met him, or no idea I admitted even to myself.
I fell in love with Mac because he is smart and charming and sexy, with a huge dose of flamboyance and an even huger dose of warmth thrown in. Because he greets receptionist and gardeners by name as graciously as he greets billionaires. Because he cries at hopeful moments in books and movies. Because he is the funniest, punniest man I know, and his humor is never at the expense of anyone else. Because he makes me feel like the smartest woman he’s ever met, and the sexiest. Also, the best cook, although I suspect that’s because he’s not wild about cooking himself. In fairness, he freely admits to being a far better launderer than I.
But here’s the thing that turns out to be the one thing I didn’t even know I needed in a lover, which turns out to be the most important to me: he supports who I am, which is a writer.
I am, seriously, a writer today because Mac Clayton told me I should try. He didn’t tell me that I could do it—neither of us had any idea whether I could. But he told me—in a very nice way over a glass of wine late one night when I was wasting far too much of my life trying to be a great success at a job that wasn’t right for me—that the far bigger shame than failing to reach your dream is never having had a go at it. That succeeding at something that doesn’t matter to you is no success at all.
And he backs up that initial push pretty much every day, in every way he can:
- He does at least his share of the grubby little things we all have to do in life, valuing my writing as equal to his work even when he was making a huge salary and I’d never published a word.
- He drops everything to read whenever I need him to. He finds even in my worst work something praise, but also understands that an honest opinion is worth 1,000 words of praise, and then some.
- He rereads.
- And rereads.
- And rereads.
- He reminds me that the writing is the thing, that while publishing (and publishing well) does matters, the writing itself is the thing, and the writing is something I will always have.
- He helps me laugh when I need a laugh, and holds me when I cry, which I do. (If there is a writer out there who doesn’t sometimes cry, I’d like to know what you take for that.)
- He celebrates every moment with me.
Like this one. 27 years.
So here’s the writing tip, lest there be any doubt (and yes, this is intended for everyone except Mac):
If you are a writer and you don’t have a Mac, throw that lover back and try again. There is nothing more important to being a writer than being with someone who respects and supports you as a writer.
I want to share one beautiful paragraph from a piece Mac wrote a few years ago, because he’s a writer too, now, and I think it says who we are and where we’ve been better than I ever could:
There were days in hospitals with babies who were too young to have to be there. Nights of too much work, too much pressure, too much success, too much failure. Just too much. Days on the farm swimming in the pond, feeding cows, beginning her first novel as the snow hushed the land and the wood stove warmed her. Years more of hacking a winding path through one wilderness or another to be able to write and be with our boys.
I can’t imagine anyone I’d rather be hacking that winding path with than you, Mac. Happy anniversary, lover.
P.S. I shamelessly stole this title from that piece Mac wrote, “There Aint Nothing Like Her Nowhere,” which I would urge you to read if it didn’t put me in an embarrassingly sexy light.