The author Kent Haruf's wife, Cathy, joined us for a discussion about her late husband and his work.
Let it be said that Cathy Haruf is splendid--intelligent, funny, warm, and strikingly good-lucking. With her white hair and enormous brown eyes, she stands out. And her husband, of course, was a gifted storyteller. So it was interesting to hear her talk about his process which involved going out to a tool shed, putting on a cap and pulling it down over his eyes so he couldn't see what he was typing, and going to work on a typewriter. He used the hat, Cathy said, to keep from being distracted.
When he finished his work, he would give it to Cathy, who would go through his (apparently) stream-of-consciousness, single-spaced draft, clean it up and input it into the computer.
As a writer myself, I have to say this is huge. HUGE. She was, and I'm sure he acknowledged this, a writing partner.
And this got me to thinking about my own writing life and how I didn't have a wife to run interference for me in all the ways that women will run interference for the men they love--especially if they feel like those men are geniuses. They feed them, they shield them from unnecessary interruptions, they encourage, they edit, they listen, they protect his time and his space.
As it turns out, I would not have been a writer if it weren't for Ken Cannon. He truly encouraged and encourages me to write. He sent off my first manuscript--the one that eventually became Cal Cameron by Day, Spider-Many by Night--after I had lost confidence in it and myself. He has always made it possible for me to leave when I needed time to focus. And, of course, his paycheck has supported us--something I would have not been capable of doing on my writing income alone. So I appreciate him more than words can say.
But I do have to say last night caused me to reflect about the differences in our lives when it comes to gender. Men can write through life. Women have to write around it.