One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about writing is writing with other people. I’ll admit I’ve never done it on a professional level, but gaming online in Play by Post games certainly lends itself well to the situation. You learn how to think on your feet and also how to “play well with others.”
(Most of the time, anyway. Sometimes it can lead into a realm of frustration and occasionally it breaks up a friendship, but I’d like to think that’s more an exception than a rule.)
It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with anyone and I sort of miss it. In the beginning of A Brush of Darkness, there’s a bit of a snarky commentary about a certain romance book involving a French vampire (complete with flowing silk shirts and all the rest of it.) I can admit I was poking fun at the trope at bit – but I was also poking fun at myself. Whatever people might think, I tend to mock my own issues far more than I do anyone else.
The vampire in question is actually a character (not mine) from a PbP game. His writer and I spun off about 80k or so with my own emotionally constipated angel girl. Some of it’s completely over the top and fairly smutty. Some of it is damn good.
It’s unlikely to ever see the light of day.
But from a writer perspective it gave me a way to blow off steam. There’s something nice about not having to plot out every little thing. We could set them up in a particular scene, driven by either one of us and I could simply have my character react to hers. It led us down some interesting pathways (sometimes bad ones. >_<) But more often than not, it was simply *fun.*
You’ll see a bit more of this particular pair in one of the books Abby reads in A Sliver of Shadows. Just a short snippet – and nothing that we actually wrote – but I always like including inside jokes in my stories, even if no one else really gets it.
That being said, the itch to collaborate on something new is tempered by the fact that it hasn’t always worked out – though that was probably due to more of a lack of focus and communication than on writing ability. One of the things I’ve come to realize about group projects is that everyone really has to be on board with what’s going on. If you want to write a high fantasy and your writing partner thinks you’re writing romantic erotica? Obviously there’s going to be an issue.
Because the writing process can sometimes be so intimate, it’s hard to let down your guard enough to allow another creator into that circle. Early drafting is a vulnerable time for a lot of writers, often exposing what we consider to be our worst weaknesses. There has to be trust that you’ll both do your parts and do them well without blame or mockery.
And of course, I’ve got my “dream authors” (or artists, for that matter) I’d love to work with, but I’ll admit it would be terribly intimidating to actually do it. I feel like I’d possibly be second guessing everything I wrote because I’d be worried it wasn’t up to par.
On the other hand, if one of those dream authors made the offer, you can damn well bet I’d take it.