COLLABORATION submitted 12-26-17


Ever thought of writing with someone’s assistance? If you think it’s easy, either you haven’t tried it or you’ve been working as a collaborator in your business career for several years. The art (and if you don’t believe it’s an art – it is) is the process of putting your ego on the shelf and connecting with your collaborators on a sacrificing, unselfish basis. If you are not a natural collaborator, you are playing a role in a drama as a collaborator.

Early in my business career I taught myself how to do it. A lot of it is listening to your collaborators, understanding their approach, and letting them explain their intentions. Once you’re in that frame of mind, the process of sharing can begin.

After writing my three novels, I felt I was getting better as a storyteller and a writer, but there was still something missing. I wasn’t baring the souls of my characters to the extent the reader could justify or identify with everything they did. My wife was the critical voice I needed to hear. She told me that the women in my books talked and acted too much like me. Being a guy, that was understandable, but that was missing ingredient. I needed a more sensitive, almost motherly voice in many of the women in my stories.

I was fortunate to find that voice in Brenda Sevcik. Several things had to come together: a willing contributor, a woman who could write well, and a person with a natural collaborative soul. I was lucky…no doubt about it. Here’s how it all fell into place. There were several women in my book critique group that I met with twice a month. After one of the meetings I made my pitch for a collaborator, and Brenda volunteered. The best part, however, is how our work together became a joy.

I had a prepared an outline of the plot and written the first two chapters. I gave it to Brenda to take home and read. She said she would call or email me with her comments. She did better than that. Two days later she emailed me her ideas for two new chapters. And…we were off and running. I edited what she wrote, and returned it with thoughts on the next couple of chapters. Before I realized what was happening we were in a race to see who could come up with the best advancement of the targeted plot.

For the most part we completed the first draft in six months, some 300 pages. One of the magical things that can occur with collaboration is when completely opposite backgrounds and experiences collide. I’m fifteen years older as well. I learned so much from her. The editing and re-writing was the only tedious portion of our working together. We got down to refining so many things at once. We had a self-imposed deadline of a published manuscript by September. We missed it by a month due to our vacations and travel.

Our publisher designed a cover everyone fell in love with. It was recently submitted as their single entry in the annual cover design competition. We won’t know the outcome for a couple of months.

Then came the unpredictable surprise. Brenda wanted to help me market it, and she came up with an idea after I said I was disenchanted with the typically stodgy author appearance. I told her it was too dull and boring. She suggested we dispense with the typical author reading of passages from the book and act them out instead. Her idea arose only four months into our collaboration. Since we wouldn’t have a book for another six months, we acted out a scene from Smitten at an appearance in January of 2017. It went very well, and we enjoyed doing it.

And that was the start of us acting out scenes at our next four appearances. This was a real stretch for a guy that never acted in a play in his life, much less a drama. Brenda was so good at it, I couldn’t disappoint her by not performing as well as her. I still don’t think I’m as good as her, but I’m trying to be. We have two more dramatic appearances scheduled for the first quarter of 2018. We haven’t talked about it, but at some point we’ll stop appearing together. I’m not looking forward to that day. We’ve become pals.