That last kind of collaboration, I don't do. Right now. But once upon a time, I did.
You can stop looking. You'll never find the book. It was published and sold as a charity fund raiser. Readers enjoyed the story and the admittedly tiny print run sold out. We made over a thousand dollars for the charity. Win all the way around. The most important part? This was a collaboration between three different authors. We did this book, had a great time, laughed a lot, and we're all still speaking to one another more than a decade later.
That last part can't be taken for granted. We all hear horror stories about collaboration projects destroying friendships.
This one could have. It didn't because we had a few assets on our side.
- Trust - we'd never met in person, but we'd corresponded via email and talked on instant messaging. We knew we were generally like minded.
- Track records - I was a wannabe writer, so was one other lady. Our third was actually the one who'd proposed the project in the first place. Our track records came from a long history of story telling on a email loop we all belonged to. From our previous posts, we all knew what to expect from one another from a story-telling standpoint.
- And we set one stringent rule before we started: NO writing someone else's character.
Did I mention we did this live? By which, I mean to say, each episode we wrote was written in email and published to the larger group - no edits, no approval from the other authors. It all happened on the fly as a three-way, intertwined improv that unfolded across several days of intense reading and writing. And it worked brilliantly.
We'd left ourselves enough room in the plot arc to allow for surprises. None of us wrote anything so long and involved that it left the other two no where to go. All three writers had a knack for ending an episode on a point of tension so that the other two had a place to hook into and move the story forward. There's a talent in improv - a certain openness, a willingness to say 'yes' to whatever someone hands you. I think that's necessary in collaboration, too. It certainly worked for us.
When it works, collaboration is great fun.
When it doesn't, it's soul-killing.
I'd do it again, I think. If the right project and the right people came along. Making it sound like an affair. And maybe that's what collaboration is to me - a fling - one that would take someone and something extraordinary to seduce me away from my mostly monogamous relationship with my stories...