Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Guest Post: Clara Eaton on Being the Wife of a Creative Husband

Editor's Note: Clara Eaton holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Johns Hopkins University, is the proprietor of Eaton Organizing, and writes bang-up essays on everything from Midwest winters to her family's private mythology of trains. She also happens to be my wife, which makes me an extremely lucky man. She has contributed a post on living with a creative spouse, which has required a number of editorial emendations to ensure accuracy. I love you, sweetie. Please don't thrown Cthulhu in the trash.

It was a dark and balmy night. My husband and I were "taking the air" as was our custom on lovely south Florida evenings. We had just rounded the bend of our street, and I was admiring the mid-century lines of the apartment on the corner when Loren said, "If you injected a bolus of air into an artery, how long would it take to kill a person?" (Ed.: Thromboembolism as murder weapon is an under-utilized plot device and deserves far more attention than it has received.) It was then that the idea for Wives of Creative Husbands (W.O.C.H.) was born.

W.O.C.H. is a very small support group. Currently, it has a membership of one -- myself. I have considered asking the wife of my husband's best friend if she'd like to join, but he writes about gnomes and such, so I'm not sure she'd see the need. (Ed.: Actually, he writes about dwarves, which are a different sort of creature entirely, although they come from a similar European mythology.) I, on the other hand, stood in the closet of our tiny apartment and cried after reading my husband's first post-marriage work. There was a brilliant moral point to the story, and I did understand what he was trying to do. However, a concrete thinker like me has such a hard time making it past images of picked scabs and oozing wounds. (Ed.: "Picker" was published in Volume 12, Issue 4 of the now-defunct Storyteller: Canada's Fiction Magazine.)

What are the experiences of other wives? Do they sit at the breakfast table, pondering "chicken or fish" for dinner, knowing that their husbands sit calmly across from them,
dreaming of androids and electric sheep? (Ed.: For the record, I do not share Philip K. Dick's love of Gnosticism and controlled substances.) There are moments that I feel lucky to be included in his world, because the grand ideas of literary life carry him away so completely. But I'm thankful when he comes down out of the clouds to consider the merits of a good dinner, a drawerful of clean socks, a freshly pressed shirt.

On the other hand, I try to be supportive, too. I listen carefully to thoughts about William Golding's device for presenting human depravity, or nod sagely at evaluations of Ray Bradbury's combination of horror and nostalgia. But I would like to sit down, maybe for an afternoon of tea and cookies, and hear from spouses who are simultaneously proud and perturbed by the creative mental wanderings of their beloveds, just to know that there are other smart, sensitive women who might be just a little challenged by
the Cthulhu figure and his screaming victims on the desk in the office. (Ed.: Thanks for writing, darling. I think you're the best!)

(Picture: CC 2007 by


B. Nagel said...

My wife would like to apply for a Mississippi branch.

Of particular note were the socks and food.

And while my desk isn't graced with a vinyl Cthulhu, the storage room does have a very loud typewriter.

Loren Eaton said...

She's in!

Yes, clean socks and hot food are undeniably awesome. Without my wife, I'd probably go around poorly shod and hungry.

The advantage of the typewriter is that it actually does something practical. Cthulhu just sits there on my desk and embarrasses me when visiting friends ask me what the heck is that.

B. Nagel said...

It doesn't do anything practical when I'm punching the keys. I'm a bit partial to the backspace key.

Loren Eaton said...

I've been known to do the "Ctrl + A" and then "Delete" combination when despair threatens.