by Perdita Cargill co-author of Waiting for Callback
I’m writing this a couple of days before Honor (my daughter and co-author) goes off to university. The house is full of half-packed boxes and she’s binge-watched Fresh Meat so I guess she’s as ready as most students. So our writing collaboration is going to have to become a long distance one in term time at least. I suspect that will be less of an upheaval than it sounds.
- Her terms are really short and we’re used to working full on in the holidays. (And we are very happy that we managed to get Book Two in good shape by the end of the summer…)
- We’ve never worked sitting together. Well, except on train journeys and that nearly kills us. We read about family collaborations where the co-writers sit cozily together hour after hour and we are in awe (OK, shock and awe). There is a limit to how many hours minutes Hon can cope with me looking over her shoulder. If we’re going to email each other from different floors in the house we might as well email each other from different cities. And I’m going to have give Skype a proper go even if I think it’s just a bit weird (I always bellow and lean so far forward that my head is basically in the computer).
- I’m going to be *forced to visit Hon from time to time to have *meetings about the books. I have a strong suspicion that these meetings will involve food – lots of food.
The way we work together will change then, but not that much. What is lovely is that we both still want to write together. We respect each other and we give each other space – it works well.
Lots of people have asked us in the last year about writing together and often the questions have arisen because it’s something they’re thinking about doing themselves but they’re afraid that it will end up with fights and disagreements. They’re worried about how to structure that “perfect” collaboration and afraid that if they are working with someone they really care about – a member of their family, a close friend – that the criticism will be too hurtful. Every situation will be different but I’d lean in favour of at least investigating whether you could find a way of making it work. Because there is no ‘One Way’. There is no template, there are no rules. You can work as closely together or as far apart as you choose. You can write separate voices or not. You can work the same number of hours or care not one jot about that.
And there are two definitions of criticism. Here’s the OED:
The second is one of the finest things about collaborating and I’m grateful for it every day.