Christa: Collaboration–not the creative spark I expected
In my last post here, I talked a little about a source I’ve worked with before. In my personal blog, I’ve talked a little more about him. The reason I haven’t posted much in either place is, in fact, that source.
In the last few months, I’ve been working on more articles with him. A friendship has developed, and along with it, the beginnings of what we both think will be a strong long-term collaborative relationship. I get his ideas, the kind of information he’s trying to impart to our audience. He gets the way I work, my values as a writer. He has talked me down from creative panic (over an unwieldy and unfocused article that simply needed a little direction) and backed up my instinct (to use a source’s information for sake of balance even if it challenged his relationship with his peers).
I am amazed that this has even happened. At the start of my career, one of my dreams was to find a collaborator. I remember talking about it on and off with various people with whom I seemed to hit it off, but nothing ever came to pass. Wrong time, wrong people, I guess. Ironically, although I have always gotten along great with this particular source, I never thought of him as a potential collaborator… until this past spring, when he mentioned the possibility of working together on a book.
So? Good news, right? For the most part, yes. And at the same time, not such good news for my fiction. Developing this relationship, trying to discern the next stage in my career, has taken up huge amounts of emotional energy. It’s all tremendously positive, so I don’t mind. Yet it’s left me with little interest in my short stories or novellas. I can’t think about characters when I have this new, real-life person I’m trying to get to know. I can’t think about plot when a new chapter in my own life is unfolding. I can’t think about setting when I may be moving.
Which creates another level of anxiety. Our house is still on the market. If we go and I freelance full-time, great—I can move forward with my plans. But if we stay and I’m home with small children once again—well, what does that mean? More time for fiction, perhaps.
But also putting off a collaboration I was really looking forward to. I am confident that my friend will remain, but anxious that the momentum will be lost, the timing that was last spring will not be the same this coming spring. One step at a time, my friend tells me, and I know he’s right. I feel such a strong desire not to give up what I’ve regained this year, and at the same time, maybe we do need another few months to get to know each other before we get going on new projects… especially one as big as a book.
Meanwhile, I’m not too stressed about the state of my fiction career. I miss it, but this relationship is rather intense (hey, it’s creative!) and I know it’s the “life experience” that counts toward producing strong fiction. So, until the next stage, I’m tentatively moving forward and going with the flow—the best way, I’ve found, to handle fiction… even when it isn’t happening quite the way I expected.