Everytime I finish a first draft of a novel I get into a fight with my wife. Thank God, I’m not very prolific.
When I finished the first draft of my debut, I was beyond proud. I done something I thought impossible – I’d written a book. I rushed down and told her the good news. She replied with something along the lines of, ‘Good. What are we having for dinner?’
I announced it again at that dinner, waited for the burst of congratulations, perhaps some questions on my aspirations for the novel. I got nothing from the kids and a ‘Yeah, I know’ and a quick move-along-now-there’s-nothing-to-see-here from the wife. I decided to deal with it in a mature fashion. I sulked for about three days and then randomly got angry at her before explaining what was bothering me.
The exact same thing happened with the first draft of my second manuscript. I finished it. All excited, I told her. She congratulated me then went on with what she was doing. I got grumpy at her not celebrating my achievement enough and we had a little tiff.
So, yes, every time I finish a first draft I get into a fight with my wife.
Except this time.
When I finished my most recent first draft, there was no out of the ordinary marital discord for a number of reasons.
Firstly, she did congratulate me and ask me a few questions about it. Our little fights had made it clear that this baby needed some attention. Oh and I may have said, ‘I’ve just finished my first draft. I’m really happy about it. Could you give me a little attention please.’ Yes, those exact words.
Secondly, I’ve learnt by now that what a writer perceives as the important milestones in their writing can be very different to how non-writers perceive them. How many times have I told someone that I’m making good progress on a book only for them to assume this means that they’ll see it on a bookshop shelf within weeks . To my wife, I was always writing drafts of this or that, she hadn’t really seen how important this specific draft was to me. This was my success, my personal writing achievement. It’s something that often only other writers understand. If I want congratulations for completing a draft then I can turn to Twitter.
Finally, this is my third manuscript. No one expects balloons and a cake when they finish the first draft of a third manuscript. But I was proud of myself. So I did take the next morning off to drink tea, eat biscuts and watch telly – a celebration of sorts.
Who knows what’ll happen when I write my next manuscript, but I reckon the fights are over and my marriage is safe.
Unless I learn I’m going to get published and she says, ‘Yes, but what’s for dinner?’
If that happens all bets are off.