As you can possibly gather from my comments to Brian Hodge's blog ( http://warriorpoetblog.com/ ) I've had a barney with my missus. We don't argue a lot, but when we do, the arguments tend to be of Krakatoa proportions. We've made up, now, but we're both raw and shaken. And it's made me wonder, yet again, whether you can be an artist and have a good relationship. The only happily married writers I know about are the late Jack Rosenthal and (as far as I know) the late John Sullivan. Everybody else seems to have been divorced, separated or battered to death by their gay lovers.
Decorating was a flashpoint. I hate decorating. I even hate other people decorating. I could never stand being turfed out of my bedroom, when I lived at home, while my dad did up my room; and since DIY was his hobby, that meant every year (my dad once repainted his front room three times in the same year, a different colour each time. He said that it was only after he'd finished the room from top to bottom that he realized that he didn't like the colour. A tester pot wasn't enough.). I hate the upheaval, the smell of paint stripper, the crouching down, the preparation, the drips. My wife says that she does most of the housework, which is true; but you don't have to put a hoover together before you use it, then dismantle it afterwards. You don't have to wash your mop in noxious chemicals. And if a drop of disinfectant lands on the carpet, you don't have to try and scrub it out before it sets.
I'm bad about housework. I know I am. I'm not a male chauvinist pig, really I'm not. I enjoy cooking, but I'm never asked to do that. I suppose what it is, after a week at work, I feel shell-shocked. It's five days of trying to think for other people, taking abuse from other people, plus casual emergencies (i.e.; they happen regularly) such as bomb alerts, and people getting stuck in lifts not designed for people. I get home, and I really, really want some fun. At which point, you get Eastenders.
But then there was a point where my wife was working part time, in a more responsible job than mine, and regularly helping her elderly mother, and doing housework. She lost her job, in a most undeserved and traumatic fashion. She hasn't found another job since, and she misses people. It's a hideous irony, because I wouldn't miss people at all; at least the people I get at work. There's so much I could do, would do, if I didn't have to go into work each day.
I feel deeply unappreciated, but maybe there's nothing to appreciate. Being a writer means being an idiot, and possibly I'm lazy, too. Is there anything good to say about being married to a writer?
You hear about men who come home from hard, hard work (which mine isn't, not really) and put ont their overall and decorate long into the night. But I can't do that. Something, somewhere has to give. I feel, a lot of the time, that I'm not doing what I was put on earth for; that my life will never quite come right until I'm doing what I meant to do. That if I could only make a bit of money from my writing, I would make sense to people. Meanwhile, I feel like I'm slowly suffocating.