I Let My Husband Edit My Writing (And No One Ended Up In Jail)

“I know you love that phrase, but I don’t think it works. ”

“That didn’t make sense.”

“What do you mean by ‘miracle’ in the fourth paragraph?”

This was how pillow talk went down at my house last week, when I broke down and asked Jeff to help me with my piece for Listen To Your Mother.  The piece was good enough to get an audition before the producers, but I knew it needed a lot of work if I wanted to be selected for the show.

I know it’s hard to imagine, but sometimes I can be a pain in the ass to work with, because I’m defensive.  And insecure. I do that super sexy thing where I completely shut down emotionally as soon as Jeff says anything I perceive as criticism.  Example: He says, “Can I ask you a question?” I hear, “I think you’re writing is shit. Why don’t you take up origami?”

My signature move is turning any human utterance into criticism of me.

Therefore, it’s been my policy to avoid asking Jeff for assistance with my writing because he’s a ruthless rigorous editor.  Occasionally, I ask his permission to write about something that involves him, but then I hit publish and hope he’s not too mad when I put  my own clever spin on our personal business for all the world to see (including that reader I have in Libya– Hi, Libyan reader!)

But I needed his help, so I invited him. To my writing.

I knew I would get my feelings hurt.  I knew I would want to hurl a Costco-sized jar of artichokes at his head.  I knew I would disagree with him (because what the hell does he know with his MBA and his JD? He doesn’t know language like I do). But I also knew I needed him.

Not Afraid To Edit, My Husband

Not Afraid To Edit, My Husband– Edits From Thursday Night (The Fourth Round).  They are my love letters.

And boy, did he have a lot to say. Every.  Single.  Night.  We started on Monday night and by Thursday he was still chopping up the draft and questioning my word choice.  He’s not the fan of hyperbole and exaggeration that I am, so you can imagine that he didn’t appreciate about half of my verbal flourishes.

Every time he opened his mouth I felt defensive.  But I’d made a promise to myself to be a good partner– one who could listen to and take in the feedback without losing her shizz.  As we all know, I am not that kind of partner, but I pretended each night that I was.

I swallowed my first reactions to his critiques, my impulsive ” You never loved me” and went with the more subdued, like “hmmm, I think you have a point.”

The draft got stronger.

Each night I was less defensive.

Friday night was our last practice session before the audition.  Jeff was still challenging my structure and asking for clarification on things that seemed obvious to me.  There were surges of defensiveness that night, but I went to sleep feeling good about my piece.

Last night, I found all the drafts with Jeff’s handwritten edits. I picked them up to throw them out, but stopped myself.  These drafts? They are my love letters.  Each stroke of the pen says to me that Jeff loves me and supports me and will give up his free time to help me improve my writing.  He could have done anything he wanted with those hours, but he chose to give them to me.

And today, I am disappointed that I was not selected to be in the show, but I received so many gifts just from getting as far as I did. Afterall, I got those love letters.  And maybe next year we can try again.

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55 thoughts on “I Let My Husband Edit My Writing (And No One Ended Up In Jail)

  1. You’re a brave lady! And Jeff is brave, too. I all but keep a padlock on my office door to hide drafts and ideas and notes. Amanda would never pry anyway. But I know a day will come when I’ll ask her to read my work and give me her honest opinion. I hope I handle it as well as you did.

  2. Beautiful. This is what real love looks like – thank you for sharing. Sorry to hear you didn’t make the cut this year but hats off to you for trying. It is the trying that is the hardest – everything else is just a bonus.

  3. It’s funny, because while I was reading, I was thinking how awesome it is that he supports you so much that he would take that much time and effort to edit your writing. And then you said it yourself. So wonderful that he does it, and even better that you appreciate it’s value. I love it.

    Sorry you didn’t make the cut!! That’s a bummer. But you know that it doesn’t mean you aren’t completely awesome, right? Because you are.

    • What’s cool is that it didn’t crumple my ego. I felt sad, I cried a little, and then I really believed that it’s not personal and I’ll go and support the show and try again next year. Feels good to grow up.

  4. I am so excited for you! You pushed past your comfort zone in so many ways with this! It’s scary to leave yourself open to critique and criticism from Jeff, from the audition but you did it and you will be so much stronger for it. And it was great experience. You’ll knock them dead next year!

    One of the things on my bucket list is to participate in community theatre. I do a mean southern accent, so when our community theatre had Steel Magnolia auditions, I made myself go. I had never been so afraid in my life. They made me read for almost every part and I got called back for the next night and read more then. I got lots of compliments on my accent from the other auditioners and it was an all around great experience. I didn’t make the show and I was a little disappointed, but overall I was just proud of myself for doing the auditions. I gained a lot of self confidence those two days. I bet you did too.

  5. It really says a lot about your husband and his love for you, that he’d take the time to read and give edit, as opposed to, say, lying on the couch watching ESPN all night. Not that anyone in my house ever does THAT, ha! 🙂 And I’m sorry they didn’t pick you. Just means that your greatness will have to debut next year.

  6. I have shared a little with Ian and it is HARD! First of all, he’s not a writer so I like to discount everything he says automatically on those grounds (ignoring of course that he is smart as a whip and very well read). It’s a painful process but I’m glad you shared – with Jeff and us! You inspire me by always striving to be even better (when most of us here already think you are pretty perfect).

  7. This is great, and I love that you are saving the drafts. You guys are both really brave for exposing yourselves that way. Sorry you didn’t make the cut this year, but I hope you try again next year because you are awesome. That is all.

  8. Good for you for trying, although I’m sorry you didn’t make it. My husband is just like you in that he interprets every statement in the worst possible way. It’s the greatest source of our fighting. He thinks I’m being insulting when really I’m just being literal (I didn’t like the movie is not saying I think he’s horrible for choosing a movie that I didn’t like). I have to tiptoe all the time.

    • Oh I get it. I am sure my husband thinks he has to tiptoe. I wish I wasn’t so sensitive, b/c I can see it’s annoying for him.

      On Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 10:29 AM, Outlaw Mama

  9. I’m so sorry you didn’t get chosen for the show! You are one brave lady. Zach sits down with me all the time and tries to be like, “Sooo, whatcha’ writing?” And I’m like NOTHING! I DON’T WRITE! WHAT IS WRITING! OH MY GOD! And I hide my work like he just caught me looking at bestiality porn or something.

    • I know! I minimize the screen so fast when he approaches. It’s it funny that I hide from him but then let the whole damn world see my business. Weird.

      On Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 10:46 AM, Outlaw Mama

  10. There was a small window of time when I let my husband review my posts before I published them and I can relate to every word in here. I love your positive outlook on all of it. Huge congrats for even trying – that’s a feat in and of itself.

      • so hard!! almost every ‘helpful’ comment makes me feel like i’m a terrible writer and he’s an idiot. not good. although, i don’t know how much better i’d take it from an outside source. i think we all just want everyone to say how fabulous we are. because it’s freaking true!! duh!

  11. I love your hyperbole – love, love, love it! I had my husband pause his show so I could read a paragaph of this post to him. I said, “Sound like anyone you know?” Yep, this girlfriend is an insecure writer too. I believe it’s intrinsic to the profession. But so is persistence.

  12. Oh, so happy that you have an in-house editor who loves you so much! My hubby has only read a few of my more favorite entries and has never edited anything I’ve written (then again, I barely edit, so blah), but I edited his thesis for his MFA. He was very good about taking suggestions, which I appreciated a lot at the time.

    Eastern Iowa is hosting it’s very first LTYM and just extended the deadline for application submissions, which is good because I’m totally stymied about what I want to submit, grrr… Any suggestions for me?

  13. I am impressed because blood would be shed if my husband edited my work. I let him check for spelling and missing words I thought I typed, but that’s it. The only person who can edit my stuff is Ashley. She knows just how to say, “That’s not as funny as you think it is” without making me stabby.

  14. Pingback: My Rejected “Listen To Your Mother” Piece: Celebrating Rage | Outlaw Mama

  15. Pingback: How To Read A Rejection Email (The Listen To Your Mother Edition 2.0) | Outlaw Mama

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