Collaboration Across Many Miles By Nan Rinella & Honor Clare White
“Help! I’m writing a Narnia-inspired historical novel set in England and the U.S. from 1952 to 2002 and am so bogged down in research, I can’t break through to the story.” That’s how it started. Part of my five-book series takes place in England. Genuine sights, sounds, tastes, and touches are so critical to authentic settings. This American needed help with the Briticisms, colloquialisms, slang, etc. So I reached out to my friend, Honor. I’m in Texas. She lives in Wales.
I hired Honor part time in February 2015 to re-read The Chronicles of Narnia, research, proofread, and edit. More than anything, I needed her to be a foil, someone I could bounce ideas off of and discuss plot lines. I emailed her my synopsis, timeline, character bios, chapters, and a list of questions. Her location makes it easy for her to do research and phone sources. She spent time digging up a program for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953. She found Lewis and Tolkien’s 1953 Hilary Term lecture schedules at Oxford. Our roles were sharply defined from the start, and we signed a contract. She sends monthly invoices. I pay through Pay Pal.
As time went on, Honor became more invested in the story, falling in love with the characters. Well, me too. Honor has a music degree from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge and is a talented artist and photographer who loves animals and birds. She added a new character to the cast and orchestrated music into the story. She is also writing a children’s story that will be featured in the plot. She will illustrate that story as well.
Prayer fires up the Spirit
In June, I decided to dedicate myself to first-of-the-morning prayer. Honor suggested we pray together. We message on Facebook at 8hrs my time and 14hrs her time. Then we discuss the book. The writing took off, the Holy Spirit as our muse. Honor was the catalyst I needed. Characters came alive with wills of their own. Just lately, we decided to transfer our sessions to Skype. It works better as we continue to pray and discuss our work together.
We met a September deadline for Book One just in time to run a proposal by an editor at a recent Writer’s Retreat. I flew Honor to Texas where we had a couple days to work together face to face. We spent time devising weekly deadlines to polish Book One, revise Book Two, and write Book Three. Soon, we’ll complete the series synopsis and proposal, and they’ll be ready to send to an agent.
Catalyst leads to collaboration
Somewhere along the line, the book project became ours, and I’ve increased her hours. We tried Google Docs, but we found that just confusing and unworkable. I email Honor the chapters; she highlights her edits. It works well.
Here’s what I learned: Going at this alone was my biggest impediment, but now we are a team. That was the secret to jumpstart my writing.
Nan Rinella is a writer, speaker, journalist, past president with Panhandle Professional Writers, and former director of the annual Frontiers in Writing Conference. Nan is a hobbit in Narnia, a student of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, and a Regional Representative for the C.S. Lewis Foundation. She teaches a number of seminars, including “More Than A Hobby: The Six Essential Elements of Encouragement.” Learn more by visiting her website: WWW.onwingsaseagles.com
Honor Clare White grew up in a little village located near Oxford and studied Music at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. She worked for many years with Operation Mobilisation’s Ship Ministry and teens’ event TeenStreet, largely involved in the creative ministries. She is a freelance illustrator and editor, currently working in collaboration with Nan Rinella.