That Loving Feeling
Ruth Symes / Megan Rix
For most of my adult life I wasn't in love - but I was perfectly happy. I first started having books published more than 10 years ago back in 1997. I didn't make the millions from it that I imagined all authors must make before I was published and received my first small advance of £2,500 - hardly enough to think of giving up the day job (I was a teacher of children with special needs) but gradually I was able to go down to part-time teaching and then supply teaching at a wonderful local school before even supply teaching took up too much of the time I needed to write.
without any of the funds I'd expected to have. When asked why I wanted to be a writer, before I was published, one of the main benefits I
saw was the opportunity to travel, live anywhere in the world and email in my work from there. And that is exactly what happened. For about 3 years I had 2, or more, summers. One year I spent half the year in the UK and the other half in New Zealand. Another year I was given a grant to write 3 different children's books in 3 different countries and wrote books in America, Ecuador and New Zealand. I joined a holiday home swapping service and although I never actually swapped homes I did house-sit for people in san Francisco and Los Angeles for months at a time - and emailed in my manuscripts from there.
I thought I had my life all sorted as overlooking the beach at Little Kaiteri in the South Island of New Zealand an old friend and I wrote down our goals and one of mine was to meet someone and fall in love - 4 months later I was engaged and a little under a year I was married and had dogs and living here and there and everywhere was no longer an option. But the benefits to having someone to love and be loved by for a writer, or at least this writer, are myriad. First and foremost, for me, is that there's someone who's always on your side.Someone to share both the good and bad times. Then there's the amount and quality of my writing that has improved a hundredfold since I got married. My husband is a gadget fanatic. Out went my old extremely unreliable computer - at one point I'd been reduced to using my kind next door neighbour's computer and in came a brand new Mac. Story ideas could be discussed (for a while we tried writing together but my agent always seemed to dislike any of the stories that we did this way.) The utter despair of thinking that a manuscript was lost after days of working on it was met with a calm voice that led me through how to get it back via the time machine application on the computer. For the first time too I had my own home office - a room that was fitted out and decorated for me by my husband as a surprise for me to come home to after a few days away. White boards went up, smart pens were used, research materials appeared, new websites, Facebook pages, twitter accounts... When 'The Puppy that Came for Christmas' book came out and started heading up the charts my husband was there monitoring it morning and night - willing it on. When Puffin commissioned me to write a book set in Devon in WW2 he immediately organised a trip down there, booked tickets for the steam railway and got busy helping with the research.
Writers aren't always the easiest people to live with - housework doesn't get done if there's a book that needs writing - and I can have low days when the work's not going well and times when I get all panicky and cross as deadlines loom and I've booked in too much to do to reasonably manage. Sometimes, if I'm in the middle of it all, the day's gone past so fast I've hardly noticed it go by and emerge in a fog - thank goodness for our dogs who keep me almost grounded by demanding walks every now and again!
Being a writer was still the best job in the world before I fell in love but it and my life are a million times better now. To have someone in your corner cheering you on, whether it's a husband, wife, relative, friend or even a pet makes all the difference in the world.