Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Tip O'Day #461 - Collaborate or Not?

Guest blogger Marsheila Rockwell on “Trust in the Dark Places.”

Writing is an intensely personal act, and it is perhaps the most private and isolated of all professions. (Except for lighthouse keepers, and the cosmonaut in Armageddon who got stuck up on the Russian space station by himself for months and months.) We writers spend a lot of time in our heads, creating new people and places that no one else knows and loves quite the way we do. That creation is an intimate process, one that we sometimes have trouble even explaining to other people, let alone trying to share it.

Sometimes we do share it, however. Sometimes authors collaborate with one another to create characters and worlds together, be it for a poem, a short story, a novel, a series, or an entire career’s worth of work. So how do we do it?

Honestly, a lot of times we don’t. It’s not always enough to admire another writer’s work or even to be good friends with them. When you try working together, you may find that even though you write the same sorts of things in a similar fashion, you just can’t get a project to gel. You may blame it on different writing processes or expectations, but to me it always comes down to a matter of trust. In order for me to successfully collaborate with another author, that person has to be someone I’m willing to let into the dark places in my head, someone I trust enough to share that intimate process of creation with, who I can hand the reins over to with full confidence that they not only share the vision I have for the story, but can help me make it even better.

When it doesn’t work, you have a broken, unfinished piece that usually you’re both too disillusioned with to ever touch again, and those ideas are lost, sometimes forever (and sometimes the relationship is, too). But when it does work, you find that together you have brought to life a character, a world, a story that’s better than either of you could have created on your own, and it is a truly exhilarating feeling.

Collaborating isn’t for everyone, but you’ll never know until you try, and if you can find someone you can trust in the dark places, you’ll create some amazing things together. Good luck!

Marsheila “Marcy” Rockwell is the author of The Shard Axe series, the only official novels that tie into the popular MMORPG, Dungeons & Dragons Online. In addition to working on the second book in a trilogy based on a comic book property created by one of the biggest names in fantasy, she is currently busy sharing the dark places in her head with her writing partner Jeffrey J. Mariotte. Their latest joint project involves serial killers, meteor strikes and maybe the end of the world. You can find out more here: http://www.marsheilarockwell.com/ (and here: http://www.jeffmariotte.com/).

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