Your Spouse as a Collaborator

Monty and his wife Pat

If you are a creative artist producing and publishing in the public arena, the focus of attention as a married couple will generally spotlight you.  Your wife or husband can thus become a background character in the wings of your stage-like life.  And although your spouse suffers the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that are part of your creative career, the credit for endurance and any success is usually accredited to you alone. Your spouse is too often unfairly treated as second fiddle in a one-man band.  Worse yet, they become subconsciously considered a live-in groupie.

Monty speaking in Chicago bookstore. Photo by Pat Joynes

Some spouses of creative artists survive the attention focused on their mates by generating very successful careers in their own right.  They become doctors, lawyers, or Indian chiefs and thus can attain status by being introduced as such.  But if spouses are creative artists, too, the competition for success usually overwhelms the marriage.

How can the career artist solve the perceived-worth dilemma of the partner when all the daily evidence points to the slavish demands of the art?  Is devoted service to the artist’s production the purpose and destiny of the spouse’s life?

Pat at a Chicago bookstore signing

In our long marriage of nearly thirty years, my wife Pat and I have had to confront these questions.  People in the literary and publishing trades who know us assure me that Pat makes me as an artist possible.  Otherwise, by inference, I am impossible.  I have to admit that their observations are valid.  I am dyslexic; and if Pat were not a great copy editor, every one of my manuscripts would doubtlessly fall at least a letter grade.  Pat also has infinite patience where I have only a fingernail hold on it.

I married Pat, however, for the presence of her inner light, her beautiful, unselfish, compassionate soul.  All our friends and associates recognize her in this way; and when we are in the same room, I am second-banana to my beloved wife.

When American Indian elders read the Booker Series novels and wanted to

Photo by Pat Joynes

challenge me as the Anglo author, it was Pat whom they trusted first.  It was Pat who was invited into the Cherokee Nation as the Chosen Daughter of a Greatly Beloved Cherokee Grandmother and was named Morning Song in a tribal ceremony.

Pat has been included in all our book research trips.  She did a lot of the trip planning and backed up my location observations with photographs.  As a former magazine editor of photography, I soon realized that Pat had a photographer’s eye for content and composition, and I began to rely on her pictures in the writing of visual descriptions in my books.  Our trips together for her were sometimes respites from the household responsibilities that included three teenaged daughters.

Here are a few of Pat’s photographs that she had contributed to our book projects as well as some of her personal favorites.

On set of CELESTINE PROPHECY movie. Photo by Pat Joynes

Monty on the movie set of THE CELESTINE PROPHECY


Movie location of CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD, Ashland, OR.

New Mexico roadside, location of novel DEAD WATER RITES. Photo by Pat Joynes

Alaska, location of novel JAMES MASON LIVES! Photo by Pat Joynes

Our street. Photo by Pat Joynes

Our dog Heidi on a local mountaintop.

A snowy day at home

Bass Lake, Blowing Rock, NC

Bryce National Park

Evening at Bass Lake

For any married artist, your spouse is both your companion and your career partner.  When you realize that you can have no success, no happiness, and no satisfaction from your art if your marriage doesn’t work, you will begin to celebrate your spouse as he or she deserves.

Photo by Jim Dillinger


Filed under Family, Writing

7 responses to “Your Spouse as a Collaborator

  1. Nancy Spann

    What a wonderful tribute to Pat! She is all the things you described and a special friend to me personally -as both of you are special friends to both of us. We love you! Nancy

  2. Pam

    Lovely post. Lovelier couple.

  3. gi

    You two are a very special couple and Charley and I value your friendship most sincerely.
    Many blessings for a happy and healthy future.

  4. Mili

    Love you both. That was a fortuitous meeting between 2 special people in NOLA years ago. And yes, Monty, this is a truly beautiful tribute to a beautiful person.

  5. Roger Bullock

    This is a well deserved tribute to Pat that also discloses the goodness of your own character. Thanks for sharing this article. Pat, your photos are beautiful as are you!
    We wish you the best in all your endeavors! And we value our friendship with you and Pat!

  6. Being as you are all the definition of “dear friends,” your comments are especially welcomed. My purpose in this description of my personal working relationship with Pat, given that this is a blog about the writing life, is to reassure younger writers in the creative stream that such marital collaborations are even possible. Remove the ego and circumstantial conflicts are overcome. Celebrate each other for virtues rather than talents, and competition ends. Strive to serve each other rather than struggle to rise above, and there is both balance and harmony. Do not be disappointed if it takes forty or fifty years to learn these lessons. And by all means, forgive all the former spouses and lovers who helped you find a better vision. And in that forgiving, always seek forgiveness for yourself.

  7. Lauria

    Loved it! Beautiful photos, especially of the two of you. Monty is so lucky to have you Patricia. 🙂

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