Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Writes Well With Others? Not Me!

Ellen and Joyce, The Word Mavens
My friends Ellen and Joyce write essays and blog as a team (The Word Mavens). They work together to create some really funny stuff about family, current events and trends, and their Jewish heritage. I have no idea how they manage, but manage they do. Their work appears frequently in various publications, most recently, The Writer magazine (topic? How to write together. Guess other people have no idea how either). Their friendship has withstood years of back-and-forth (as I imagine it: Here’s an idea! I don’t like that idea! But it’s a great idea! It actually stinks!)  and I just don’t think I could be nearly as collaborative as they are. 

My friends Robin and Lini get together regularly to write for several hours.  Lini is working on adult fiction; Robin, young adult fiction. When they meet, they work on their different projects, but enjoy sharing resources and holding each other accountable to finish what they began. Sounds like a wonderful idea, and it sure seems to work for them. I don’t know that I could write in the room with another writer either. I’m afraid the clack-clack of someone else’s computer keys would remind me of how slowly I was going.

Does this make me seem like a reclusive curmudgeon? I hope not! I don’t require special pens, lighting or music. No silence? No problem! I just can’t stand anyone else focusing on my writing while it’s in progress. It makes me too nervous. The kids can play catch over my head when I’m in the zone and it doesn’t phase me a bit, but let someone look over my shoulder with a comment, positive or negative, and I am most definitely phased.

It’s not that I can’t take criticism, I’ve had lots of that in my life (and not only about my writing either. After 31 years I think I retain the title of Meanest Mommy in the World).  I just want my manuscript to be between me and myself until at least a draft of it is finished.

Now my latest book, Everyday Matters has just been published and the first shipment of books has arrived. I am very excited to get my new paper-and-ink baby out into the world. And this one has been a kind of collaboration: Rose has formatted, designed the cover, etc. Sheridan has carefully proofread and edited. I am deeply indebted to both of them. But their input occurred after the book was completely written, and while they made suggestions, they didn’t actually write any of it themselves. Whether it’s good or bad, Everyday Matters is all me.

Sometimes I think it would be fun to have a writing buddy, someone to bounce ideas off of, someone to alternate paragraphs with. But I know myself too well. I have a style, and, alas, I’m not that adaptable to the styles of others.

So go teams! I cheer your joint efforts and the inspiration and support you give to one another. I’ll be over here in the corner, going it alone.

**Everyday Matters is available through for $15. A portion of all proceeds benefits Lutheran World Relief.