I eagerly snatched up the opportunity (excuse?) to interview my husband about his view of and feelings toward my writing career. Don’t we all wonder what those close to us really think about our uncanny attraction to language, our mysterious-seeming mood swings stemming from that writing we go off to do all alone, how we eye everything as if it’s a potential story or character or bit of dialogue, or what they think it means to “be a writer?”
Counting on brutal honesty and hoping for extra encouragement and insight from the perspective of a fellow creative working in a different medium, I proceeded to prod my film director and voracious reader husband, Devon Avery, for what it’s really like to be in a relationship with a writer—witnessing the ups and downs of a writing career firsthand—for any advice he has to share for the creative process and its challenges, and his view of the role we writers serve for all of humanity. (As his wife, I get to ask heavily loaded questions!)
When we first met, I was a “writer” who didn’t write. I said I was a writer—I’d had a few stories and articles published in the past—but I wasn’t actively pursuing writing as a career. And I wasn’t actually writing—aside from overly long emails and the writing that day-to-day business entails. What did you really think of that?
I believed you’d write when the time was right, when time allowed. I never doubted it.
As you got to know me—my personality and skills, work habits, dreams, etc.—what do you think was stopping me from writing, from just sitting down and doing it?
The need to earn money at the same time, having to run your own business at the same time.
How is it now different being in a relationship with a writer rather than with a non-writing writer?
You have less time available to me; and now, you’re doing what you need to be doing, what you should be doing.
How do you think being in a relationship with a writer adds to your life?
I get to read more stories. And your daily writing habit shares the peace and quiet I need for my own projects.
How do you think my writing will benefit our future?
It gives me some amazing material to film in the future.
What do you think is the biggest benefit or reward of being in a relationship with a writer?
Because you’re a good writer, I get free copies of really good books!
What do you think is the best thing one can do for a writer partner?
Give them space, the peace and quiet they need—when they need it. Fund their coffee habit, if they drink coffee.
What is the worst thing a writer’s partner can do?
Demand their time or interrupt them!
Since your current film-editing project entails working at home full-time—as I do—what would you say is my best day-to-day writing habit?
You actually do it. You’re 100% committed.
What do you think causes my worst writing days?
Too many distractions outside of writing: from your life, such as social engagements on the schedule.
What do you think helps to promote having my best writing days?
A good night’s sleep and no distractions.
What do you wish I’d remember when I’m feeling down about my writing?
That you’re a natural, and you’re brilliant at it. And I’ve loved everything you’ve written—even genres I wouldn’t normally read.
What do you wish I’d remember when I’m feeling great about how my writing is going?
Exactly how you’re feeling right then.
Is there any part of the writing process—as you’ve watched me uncover it and develop my own—that remains a big mystery or puzzle to you?
The sheer amount of discipline that is required. It’s amazing.
Do you think you learn anything new about me when you read my stories?
Probably. Little bits and pieces.
How much of our daily life—our conversations, the things we see and do—do you think appears in my writing?
Some, but not much. Your writing is much more fictional.
Which is your favorite published story of mine and why?
The Darkness or The End. The Darkness because it’s my favorite genre: fantasy. The book captures the mood of the genre really well. The End is simply a really clever, interesting story with an unexpected plot twist.
I’ve written one short story based on a concept—a “what if”—that you came up with: Earth Inherited, soon to be published. How do you feel about the story that I developed from your idea?
It’s very good. You took it beyond any expectations that I had for such a simple idea.
Which of my stories do you think would best serve as the basis for a film?
Most of your stories lend themselves to film really well. The Darkness would be a really fun one to cinematize. You could build up the story’s inherent tension really well on film, especially because “the darkness” is a character in the story that’s neither seen nor heard.
Which of my stories isn’t read or appreciated as much as you think it deserves?
I think all of your stories, books, should be read more widely—always. The Darkness comes to mind again; fellow fantasy genre fans would all love it as they discover it.
Which is your favorite unpublished story of mine and why?
I’m really excited to read the novel you’re now writing. The concept is incredibly intriguing.
Writing for a living—or as a part of one’s life at all—can be a strange thing for non-writers to understand, especially if they have no experience in creative fields. What’s the most annoying response you hear in sharing that your wife’s a writer?
That typical question of “Would I have read anything of hers?”—as if popularity or notoriety are the only things that matter in creative work, or have to be the things that drive an artist.
What’s the best response you’ve received?
When they say, “I know [she’s a writer]. I’ve read some of her books. And they’re amazing.”
What do you wish others we know—friends, acquaintances, and family—understood about my writing career?
That you’re one of the best writers out there. That you’re a natural-born talent that they’re missing out on if they don’t read your work.
What do you think others will never understand about what it means to be a writer?
They’ll never appreciate that feeling of birthing and nurturing an idea into conception.
Do you have any words of advice for spouses or significant others of writers?
Be patient. Give your partner space. And enjoy that unique privilege of being the first person to read their art.
Why do you think we writers choose to be writers? How is that a good or bad thing?
Because you have a story to tell. It’s a gift and a responsibility to the art.
Do you think writers are important, even essential in the world?
Yes, very. Good stories influence us. They guide us. They inspire us. Of course, writing is essential—definitely, for the same reasons.
Do you think writers can change the world for the better? How can we do that?
Yes. You can write about how the world should be—how life should be lived. You can inspire people—especially the young people—provide hope, encourage dreams, suggest possible futures. A single sentence can sometimes unwittingly inspire thousands of ideas.
After the experience of living with a writer, what is the number one bit of advice you want to give to all writers?
Find the right partner that allows you to create your art, that doesn’t inhibit you in any way. Otherwise, you don’t need a partner—but the world needs your art. Make sure you find the time—you make the time—to write every day, so it becomes an enjoyable habit.
To find out more about Justine Avery’s B.R.A.G. Medallion book, click here