What makes a great literary writer? Is it their inner fire? Their great mind? The depth of their passion for the written word?
Actually, no, it turns out that what really makes a great literary writer is a wonderful spouse or partner. The saying, "Behind every great man is a great woman," is very true. It's proved by Vera Nabokov, who not only did all the classic House Wifey things for her literary husband, she also edited his work and handled all the tedious mundanities we would call Office Work.
Things like earning a steady paycheck, paying the bills, cleaning, cooking, raising the children, sending letter to fans, arranging appointments with editors, and more. Atlantic journalist Koa Beck has an interesting article about this, the praise and envy of Vera.
For those out there still in the literary trenches, what can you you take away from this?
Get a partner. They don't need to be a spouse, or family, or even your best friend - although undoubtedly they will become a good friend indeed - but get a partner. Find someone who will help you, who will support your writing, who will support you.
Vera Nabokov did something even more important than cooking dinner every night, she was there when Vladimir's faith in himself failed. And that, more than anything, is what a writer needs. Hot meals, clean laundry, and a steady income will not make you an author. Many people have these luxuries and never write a single book, never create one piece of art, never leave their comfort zone because they don't have someone urging them to grow.
Conversely, far too many great artists quit before they finish because they are mired down in an negative environment. Self-doubt is part of the creation process, it's inescapable. During those moments of doubt a writer needs to have someone who still believes in them. If an artists walks away from a project out of fear of failure and finds themself surrounded by doubters and naysayers, they won't go back. At some point, they will begin to internalize the negativity pouring in and quit.
That doesn't mean you should divorce your spouse, abandon your friends, or cut out your family if they express doubt in your chosen passion. It means you sit down with them and say, "This is part of me. It's something I love. This keeps me sane, and healthy, and happy. Please, support me."
Hopefully, they'll understand and will be willing to support something, even if it's only 30 minutes a day, or two hours on the weekend. Find what works, and in turn support the ones you love in their pursuits that feed their creative passions. Creating good things is a sure fire way to improve your life.
P.S. You might also want to pull out this article if someone wants to claim males are better literary writers because they write more. They don't. Males just have a better support system in the form of a society that insists women are in charge of the housework. If husbands and society were equally supportive of creative women, we'd have more women in literature.
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