This Writer’s Life by Drusilla Campbell
Tomorrow is my wedding anniversary.
Art and I will have been married forty-two years, a number which leaves me feeling slightly faint. Won’t bore or embarrass you with the thrilling details of the rollercoaster ride it has been. Where do you think I learned to write such good conflict scenes? But at this point I guess we’ve earned the right to say, it was all worth it. I forget most of the details of those dust-ups that left me sobbing in a heap or sent him out the door and into the car, tires screaming around the corner. I threw a plate at him and chipped his tooth. He cut up my credit cards and threw the snippets at my feet. I haven’t a clue what got us so riled up.
I have some vivid memories of the good times, though, and a number of them involve books and writing, sitting side by side on a rented bed in a motel in the middle of nowhere either writing in notebooks or reading. Art asking me how to spell something. Me asking what a word means. He read Beowulf aloud by firelight on a wilderness camping trip. For years we journalled together in the morning before work. I don’t know what he wrote and he never read my scribbling. Looking back what seems more important than the content was the act of doing it together.
Without Art’s support and encouragement I would never have kept writing through all the years of drought, almost twenty years when I couldn’t sell anything. He did not complain because we were a single income family raising children in a two income economy. He did not complain because I was often distracted by plots and characters or in tears because I had, yet again, been rejected. Actually, it was he who helped me understand that I was not being rejected. It just wasn’t the right time for whatever book I had offered to a world that didn’t want it: Cottonwood, After Daddy, The Queen of Joy, Sweet Thyme Baby, Bluegang. He helped me learn what all writers must if they are to survive the horrors of rejection and editing. Though we draw our stories from our hearts and memories and deepest longings, they are not us. The greatest work of literary art is still a thing apart from the author. With Art’s help I learned that and because I did, I was able to keep writing and submitting and revising and submitting again.
So I guess I’ll keep him around for a few more years. Many more years, I hope.
Drusilla Campbell is Board President of San Diego Writers, Ink. Before settling in San Diego, she lived and worked in Australia, London, Central America, California and Appalachia. After receiving her MA she worked for WAMU-FM, the NPR affiliate in Washington, DC where she was an on-air personality. She’s published more than sixteen novels including the best selling Blood Orange and, most recently, The Good Sister. Drusilla is the creator of NovelCram, two day boot camp for aspiring novelists. She frequently speaks at writing conferences and has taught classes in crafting the novel at UC Fullerton, University of California at San Diego, The Writing Center, The Writer’s Room and San Diego Writers, Ink. Drusilla is married to the poet and law professor, Art Campbell. They have two children, two rescued dogs and four horses.