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Where I ponder getting a little more serious about my writing

August 10, 2011

So, the other day, the beautiful & talented CDG of Move Over Mary Poppins posted something about a work in progress.

I, being me, asked if her characters were going to “do it” again. When she said that I had the wrong work-in-progress, but that characters were kissing as the bad guys circled, my wise-assery took hold.

I asked if the bad guys were physically circling, because that would be kind-of cool. Knowing that there were kids about to kiss, though, I came up with this:

This prompted a few more tweets, with an off-handed “when we write a novel together…” from CDG and, well, there was a very eager reading volunteer. And, when someone is super-eager to read your stuff, you want to write.

I get a paycheck as a web developer . . . but I know I’m not changing lives. I treat my job very seriously, but when things go wrong at my job, somebody can’t process an order automatically, so they need to make a phone call, or somebody else can’t look up pricing. I don’t change lives. And my affect on a life is over once that person moves on to their next task.

There is a very, very real part of me that wishes the previous weren’t the case. And while I think I’d thrive as a nurse, that means a whole lot of schooling and re-establishing myself in a career. I’m not saying that I shouldn’t do it – but, career is not the most important thing to me right now – my kids are. When they’re a little older, I most-certainly will be taking a close evaluation of where I am and what I’m doing and what is best for all involved in my life.

But, affecting lives means a lot more than life & death (I guess you can say that a well-coded application would affect the people who need to use it, but that’s really grasping at straws, isn’t it?), and I do hold out hope of becoming the a great author, or songwriter, or playwrite. I hold a very dear dream of making a living through creative exploits . . . and while it’s hardly life & death . . . reading a great book or watching a great show might make you happy, or think, or cry – it helps you. In fact, it could help a lot of people. And I’d love to be a person doing that.

The best thing about this dream is that I don’t need to go back to school, I don’t need go about interviewing. I just need to create something so big that I can live off the proceeds from it . . . and then figure out what I want to do next1.

So, now I’m thinking about team-writing with someone who is not only better looking, but is a better writer than me. See, CDG takes this writing stuff seriously2. She’s good at developing story, and characters. She can write the details of a scene and transport you somewhere else. She does research to make sure that she’s historically accurate. Me, I can describe sexual acts with some measure of detail, and I can sometimes get people to guffaw in fewer than 140 characters.

Ok, fine, on Tuesdays when it’s a full moon and the wind is blowing from the south, I’m pretty good at evoking emotion through my writing.

Anyway, there are three types of writing teams that I’m familiar with.

  1. The writer & very-active & present editor (think David & Linda Eddings). One person is responsible for most all of the creative stuff . . . the other reads through, makes suggestions, ensures continuity, etc..
  2. The competitors (think Gene Weingarten & Gina Barreca). Usually, they’re best in essays & shorter works, where you have two very divergent voices and/or viewpoints and you want to get across “I am saying this, and this other person is saying that.
  3. The teams (think Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson, Stephen King & Peter Straub, or any third grade classroom when you create a story by going person to person to person). Here, one person writes, the next adds on, and you go like that until the story is told.

I actually think I’m well-acclimated to that third type (and, let’s face it, that’s the only one that would work), because I typically only have a semblance of a clue as to where I’ll end up when I step out to write3. I can actually find myself having fun reading & doing some light-editing of a chapter, then penning one of my own, and stepping away from the story until I get something back.

Of course, there must be ground rules. Here’s what I’m suggesting:

  • While editing from the other author (for both consistency and clarification) should be expected, the path laid-forth by one writer, in his/her portion, should be respected by the other (no introducing a “curveball” character in one chapter only to have that same character killed off in the next because the other other didn’t want to update the story).
  • Both writers should make efforts to get back with their portion, to the other writer, in a timely fashion (making note that both writers are very busy people with families).
  • Whenever there appears to be a “tug of war” about the direction of the story, that needs to be hashed out before the next portion is penned. Because, while there may be different paths to get to the light at the end of the tunnel, you need to make sure you’ve both agreed on which tunnel you’re working through.
  • Neither author should hold an element of the story as their own – everything written, by the time it gets to the public, exists only as a collaborative work.
  • Effort should be taken by one author to keep the other author from having to do exhaustive research – or, I shouldn’t make a key plot point be reliant the finer differences between the Nickel & Quarter defensive packages (unless CDG wishes to school me in football know-how)

Then, of course, there’s what the heck to write about . . . but I think that might be best kept a secret until we’re ready to have other eyes on it. What say you, my dear reader(s)? What rules should we stick by? Any ideas for what to write?

1  ok, so maybe going back to school and re-establishing myself would be a lot easier . . . but I don’t know if it would be any more fun.
2  When I write, I take writing very seriously, but I’ve never been able to make it the priority that I’d need to make it in order to “make it” as a writer. I keep waiting for inspiration to hit, and when it does, I don’t have the discipline to sit down & churn out whatever that inspiration gives me.
3  The more astute of you may realize this is why I ramble on, a whole lot, and seldom make a concrete point.

From → Blogging, Writing

  1. I love the concept of relay writing. (I have no idea what it’s actually called, so just humor me, please.) It sounds like fun and can get your creative juices going in a way you weren’t expecting. Plus, when you have someone else waiting on you, it might give you a little push to sit down and get the words out. I love it!

    • You know, it’s that latter part that I’m most looking forward to. I don’t have a whole lot of issue coming up with ideas, and I can work on things – but I can’t always make myself finish. Something will sit, 80-90% done . . . and if I’m only accountable to myself, well, it might grow stagnant. Handing off to another writer, though, so I need to complete? I think it would be good for me.

  2. Jesus. I may swoon right here in the comments.
    But you’re right, I know nada about football.

    • Oh, we love it when you swoon 😉

      I’m seriously looking forward to the possibilities here.

  3. I love the idea. I can’t think of any other rules but it sounds like a blast. And I completely understand what you’re saying about a professional life at a computer doing something that really doesn’t make much of a difference. I left that in November. I’m just having trouble getting started on the “what’s next” part.

    • See, every now & then I get so worked up over something so minor that I really think I’m best just walking away. But, I never do, because I know that there are bigger things that I need to do. But, if I landed a book contract while working . . . well, that’s a whole different ball of wax.

      The issue, of course, is doing the work to land said contract while juggling work, and the kids, and the marriage, and the band, and the symphony, and the musicals . . . . but it will be worth it once I, you know, actually do it.

  4. I’m with CDG. Swooning, and also? Wise asserey? Awesome.

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