Dear Agony Editor,
I’m a writer with a husband who has always been supportive of my career except in one area: he hates going to publishing industry events. He finds them boring and pretentious. I understand that they might be a bit dry for him, but these events are important for my networking, and I’d like him by my side. How do I make events more enjoyable for him?
Have a Bored Hubby
Dear Have a Bored Hubby,
It’s an undeniable fact that some publishing events can be a wee bit on the dull side – even for writers. Sometimes, the only highlights are the free wine and cheese cubes. So, I understand your husband’s viewpoint. If writers find these events a bit dry, imagine the experience for someone who isn’t part of the industry.
One way to keep him entertained is to make up stories about the other guests. “See that person in the purple jumpsuit over there? They just left their spouse for an adjective.” (I’d only do this if you’re out of earshot of others; otherwise it could get problematic.) You can also make a point to steer conversations away from writing. “Darling, tell everyone about the time you saved the seniors from that swarm of killer bees.”
But the better solution might have nothing to do with industry events at all. Compromises are part of any relationship, and sometimes it’s just easier to let certain things go. So, I’d consider leaving him at home. He’ll appreciate being relieved of his husbandly duties, and it will be easier for you to attend without worrying about whether he’s having a good time.
If you’re uncomfortable attending industry events on your own, consider asking another writer friend to go with you. You could also bring along an emerging writer who could benefit from making industry contacts. Maybe you know an avid reader who would relish the chance to meet some fascinating (or, according to your husband, not so fascinating) writers. Perhaps you know someone who really likes cheese.
As you say, your husband is supportive of your career, which is the important thing. He can still support you even if he’s not physically by your side. And you can support his need to have the night off.