Collaborative Writing

One of my favorite things to do with my niece, Jilly, is to go to Starbucks and work on an art project. We call them our Artbucks Sundays. We have painted, drawn, needle felted, made fleece blankets and beaded to name a few. We even knitted eternity scarves on our forearms one day.

One rare day when we ended up at Starbucks with nothing more than my tablet, Jilly suggested we role play. We each chose our character and began taking turns writing a story. Unfortunately we didn’t have much time and had just reached a very interesting twist when we had to leave.

She spent the night Sunday and when I woke her at 1:30 p.m. Monday, neither of us were really ready to get up. She suggested we role play. I grabbed my tablet and we started a new story. While waiting for Jilly to finish her part, I grabbed the laptop and pulled up the old story we had started ages ago. We sat on her bed for six hours giggling and typing then switching between stories. (We did occasionally stop for food and drink but it was a jammy day.) I’d never done any collaborative writing before so it was an interesting exercise.

I often thought the story was going one direction but then Jilly would take it in a completely different direction. The words she used were very interesting. “He was wrecked” instead of “he was a wreck”; extracted instead of extricated. Our language is very much a result of the words we are surrounded by and the differences in our styles and our language was very cool to see. It made me think more about the words I choose. I’m always really careful to make sure the words mean exactly what I want but I had never given any thought to what alternate words might make the feelings more immediate or decisive. Each generation has their own vernacular and set of trigger words. Jilly is a portal to that world for me.

Jilly’s characters are very much like her. Innocent but world wise (likely thanks to the internet and social media). Mine are a little damaged and careful. They don’t rush in without knowing the score. It’s the interaction of those characters and our interpretation of how our character would respond to the other that is the most enlightening and interesting to me. Jilly’s characters want to throw open their arms and take care of the world. Much like Jilly herself, they are compassionate, caring, committed and throw caution to the wind when they find love. Mine question, consider, and weigh everything before committing. It makes for very interesting stories and character interaction.

One of the stories turned out very funny and sweet. The other darker and melancholy. I can’t wait to see what comes of our collaboration in the future. We are trying to find a way to continue our collaboration now that she’s home. Some way we can both access a draft and add our character’s interaction.

On the personal writing front, two books are in the beta reader’s hands. First report due Friday – can’t wait. Had a short email saying the relationship between the two main characters was “dynamic.” Going to believe that’s good. Working on finalizing the third book which is a two book series; Book 1 is done just rereading for familiarity then going to work up the intro to the next book. (I also love this book so rereading it is more for pleasure than just for work.) Anyway, doing a series is something new but I have it all worked out in my head so that’s half the battle.

Before starting a new book, I’m going to spend a couple of days researching agents and getting my query letters ready to go. Then I get to choose which of the next fifteen books I want to write. Have more ideas than time. I guess that’s better than too much time and nothing to write. Sort of know what’s next but my top five are all pretty much contenders. Excited. I’ve lived with these three books for a year. Time to let them go and find new challenges.

Today I had an argument with the universe (God or whatever you want to call him, her or it). Sometimes you just have to stand your ground, declare your intentions and tell the Universe to do what it has to. No matter what, I’m standing my ground and beneath my feet it says WRITER. Whatever else comes, that part of my life won’t change – even if it has to take place in the corners of my life. I’ll fill those corners with words. Peace out (feels like that kind of day, you know). B

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