Growing up I was incredibly shy. As an adult I’ve become much more social. Sometimes I suspect that it’s because I spent so long hiding in a shell that now I enjoy being with other people. Heck, I drive up to Logan twice a month, just so I can hang out with the coolest board game group ever. I like socializing.
So why am I trying so hard to become a full time writer? Writing is a very solitary experience. You lock yourself in an attic for 6 months and bang out a manuscript. Sure, if you become successful then you get to meet a lot of people–fans, agents, publishers, critics–but even then, you have to return to that attic and spend 6-8 months every year in solitary confinement, banging out yet another script before your publisher lets you out into the fresh air so you can interact with people again.
For me, the best part of writing is that I get to meet and hang out with other writers; all of whom are interesting. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being not very interesting, and 10 being very interesting, writers usually land at about 85. Honestly, they are all crazy, but the incredibly interesting crazy, not the grow a beard and mutter crazy (well, Rob Wells is both kinds of crazy).
For me, I write because I love to hear from people who have read what I wrote. I love the feedback. And I love talking about writing, not just doing it. For me, I would almost pay money to sit in other people’s outline sessions as they hammer out characters, plot, and setting. It’s why I was so into role-playing games when I was young. Well, that, and the simple fact that I was a nerd.
Because of this, I’ve often thought that writing a book with somebody else would be the epitome of awesomeness. You would have the strengths of two authors behind a single book. One might be great at world building, another good at dialogue. Both would be able to give feedback and keep the manuscript out of the potholes that many writers fall into. With two authors working on a single manuscript, you may end up where the sum is greater than the two parts.
So why don’t we see more books by teams of authors? Do most authors like being locked in the attic alone?
It’s because finding a writing partner is more difficult than finding a spouse. Think about it. First, your writing skills have to be on the same level; otherwise one of you becomes dead weight. Second, you have to have an interest in not only the same genre, but the same idea. Believe me, if you’re going to write for 6 months, it better be something you’re passionate about. I think about my books when I eat, when I shower, when I’m going to sleep, when I sleep, and yes, I even think about my books when I’m talking to you. I keep nodding and smiling at you, but that is only because I just came up with an incredible idea, and I can’t wait to get home and start writing. Third, you have to get along better than you do with your spouse, because writing is chock full of difficult decisions. I know couples who get into fights over what kind of faucets to put in their new house. What happens when you’re making life-changing decisions about your protagonist?
So even though the payout would be so grand (really, wouldn’t you like to see what kind of crazy would come out of a joint effort from the Brothers Wells?), I think the obstacles of forging a really good writing partnership are unfortunately almost insurmountable. How can you ask somebody to write with you unless you’ve first gone on writing dates? Gotten to meet their writing parents? Had that first awkward yet blissful experience of collaborative composition with that special someone?
And so we writers go, back into our attics. We bang on the keyboard until we’re lonely and crying. We peek out the tiny window, hoping to interact with somebody, anybody, other than our bunny slippers who have now both developed full-fledged personalities with psychotic tendencies.
And we look forward to the day we finish the manuscript, and can once again return to the land of the living.