As I’ve mentioned a time or two on this blog, I read a lot of advice columns, especially the more offbeat ones, like Cary Tennis in Salon and Dear Prudence at Slate, and Carolyn Hax, who puts the beat down on so many people that it’s a wonder anyone still writes in. She never sides with the advisee. Never — even if the person is all, “my boyfriend promised to marry me and here it is 20 years later and he won’t commit” Hax is all, “girl, you are the problem here.”
Anyway, there’s a new angsty writer on Dear Prudence’s chat for this week.
Q. How Much Hobby Sharing Can Spouses Expect From One Another?: As strictly a hobby, I write fictional novels in the evenings after my daughter goes to bed. I am a stay-at-home mom more by circumstance than by desire, though I have loved being there for my daughter. This activity has given me a chance to step into a fictional world for a few hours a night and something to do as my husband is fooling with his computer modeling, music, various artistic pursuits, or video games for the evenings after a day of work for him. I try to be supportive of his hobbies. Is it too much for me to ask for him to read what I write?
Considering Slate’s essay by Will Allison, which I referenced here, I am guessing that the advisee doesn’t read Slate (this question was pulled from Dear Prudence’s Washington Post weekly chat). I know we have covered this ground before obviously, but it bears repeating: no good can come of this.
So here’s my advice to the angsty writer — your spouse is doing you a favor by not reading your work. He knows it is dangerous territory and he just wants to steer far away from the landmines. And hey, at least you are sitting down to write. Most people don’t get that far. I mean, that’s pretty awesome. And revising too. Too bad about the fictional novel thing (okay, that was snarky, but really) but the rest you got down.
And then! Here’s a looooong letter from Since You Asked:
My feelings are larger, though, than just the girl: I don’t know what to do with my life. I’m about as Millennial as they come, I guess. I want to be a writer, more than anything. I want to write fiction (well, I do write it. I want to publish it, which I have no idea how to do since I know no one in the industry). I would like to do it professionally, if that makes sense. I want to write fiction, have a loving wife and be a good father. I want simple things, but so much of it seems beyond my grasp.
(The advisee is all of 23 years old.)
So what do you guys think? I don’t advise reading the whole letter, since this guy apparently majored in the fine art of wallowing (a painful pause as I recall a similar letter, written to my older brother, written at the same age in much the same way and with the same dreadful earnestness — ouch). How would you advise this poor young fellow?