My collaborator and I have been working together for the last 20 years.
And for 19 of those years, we’ve been married to each other.
While partnering creatively with the person with whom you share a bathroom as well as a byline can be a challenge, we were fortunate our working relationship came before the wedding bands.
We started out together in the newsroom, and I think that has set the tone for our collaboration ever since. Occasionally, we would partner up on a story, doing our own reporting and planning out the article before sitting down at the computer. One person would take the lead, but both of us signed off on the final project.
We’d been writers separately for years before I began a book-length project early in our marriage. I spent years on drafts, revisions, queries, rejections, despair and doubt, but at no time did Lynn ever waver in her support for me or my work. She read my manuscripts like an editor rather than my wife. I needed her to tell me when my plotline was weak much more than I needed her to say everything I wrote was golden (since I knew perfectly well it was not). She has also been by my side at book signings, taking care of all the important details.
Now, she’s working on her first book series, and I am happy to be on the other side of the equation. She’s bouncing ideas off me, and we talk about her characters as if we’re having dinner with them next week (and for some of those characters, you’d probably want to test the soup first to make sure it’s not poisoned). Lynn’s been able to learn from all the mistakes I made in the 15 years between first draft and paperback, and I look forward to being by her side while she autographs her books and talks with eager fans.
In 2016, we’re working on our most ambitious project to date. We’ve been mulling the idea for more than a dozen years, but we’ve finally developed our individual writing skills enough to tackle it together. We haven’t nailed down how we’ll use technology to aid in the collaborative process, but we’re excited to tell this story together as we’ve always dreamed of doing.
In our development as writers, and people, we have honed distinctive skill sets. Lynn’s a methodical researcher while I’m a more of a go-with-my-gut kind of guy. As you can imagine, one of us works a bit faster (but not better) than the other. The old fairy tale may tell of a competition between the tortoise and the hare, but for us, we are running the same race together.
Over the years, we have adapted to each other’s style by dividing the tasks and praising the efforts of the other person at day’s end. Who cares who did what when the final product is something of which you’re both proud?
Besides, it’s always a good idea to be nice to a person who’s a much lighter sleeper than you are. Then again, I do the cooking, so, well, you know…