My Favorite Writing Tool Is My Wife
Every post I write is edited by my wife (it’s not her fault). She misses typos, but she rarely misses the point. She’ll tell me if something doesn’t make sense, if it’s offensive, or if it just meanders off into a snooze. Sometimes she will just say ‘it’s fine’, and I know it’s terrible. I’ll rewrite the whole thing from scratch.
Writing is crazy because your thoughts really become the voice in someone else’s head for a minute. Like, I’m inside your head right now. It’s a terribly intimate thing, and this is perhaps why many writers (including myself) take feedback so poorly. Before this weird neural bomb goes off it helps to test it in some controlled environment, which is why I think everyone benefits from an editor, but the question is which one?
The best tool a writer can have is an editor. It’s a blessing to have one at home.
The hidden labor of women
Many writers have an unpaid, uncredited woman in the background. I’m aware of this. Frantz Fanon used to pace about the room and dictate his books. His wife, in many ways, was the writer in the family. C.L.R. James’s granddaughter said, “my grandmother did all of the typing for decades and this is how people talk about her 😒”:
This work is of course more than typing, or typos, or correspondence. This is the work. Writing is reading, reading is writing. Putting words down is the work. Reading them back is the work. It’s not secretarial work, it is the very work of writing itself.
Someone reading your work critically really brings it to life, or — sometimes more importantly — kills it dead.
This of course besides all the work that makes a ‘quiet writer’s life’ possible. The food, the cleaning, the children who conveniently disappear until the dedication page.
Whenever I hear about the habits of famous writers, I’m more curious about the habits of their wives. How did they keep shit together, to create this…