From 1 July 2011 Write Anything can now be found at our new home–http://wa.emergent-publishing.com.
Come join us for new content, new writers and a new look, with the same enthusiasm and passion for the craft of writing.
This site is now closed, but the content will remain online as an archive.
Thank you to all our readers, to all our friends from over the past five years.
See you on the new site!
Managing Editor–Write Anything
2011 is fast slipping away, and 2012 is almost upon us. Do you have a New Year’s Resolution yet?
Then how about resolving to update your bookmarks, update your RSS feeds, and join us over at the new home of Write Anything.
We switched sites with effect from July 1st, so if you’re seeing this post and are wondering why you haven’t seen anything from us for some months, it’s because you haven’t updated your subscriptions. So go visit the new site, add the new bookmark and subscribe to the new feed!
And for a little bit of fun, how about taking part in our annual Anti-Resolutions writing prompt?
Happy new year to all our readers. See you in 2012 on the new site!
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Two posts diverged on a writing site, and sorry I could not travel both and be one editor. Here, in our home for the past five years, I’m saying goodbye. And over in our new home, I’m looking forward to the future.
To all our writers and readers, past and present, thank you for walking this path with us. Writing can appear to be the most solitary of professions, yet in the midst of our solitude we have companions by our side. This month we have looked at connection and collaboration–Write Anything has forged connections between writers from around the world, and introduced them to a host of collaborative opportunities. It is what we strive to continue to do.
To connect and collaborate with our fellow travellers. A fitting end to this incarnation of the site.
Tomorrow we start on a new path. Come walk with us.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
It’s late on a Saturday afternoon. There are partially drunk beers of varying sizes, colours and shapes on the table. Coats are slung on the backs of chairs, the odd scarf clings to a throat and as though conducting thoughts–one set of hands gesticulates, sometimes tiny movements and other times grandiose passionate gestures… heads nod in time. The topic of discussion is passive voice in writing, and moves outward to a dissection of a current character, back flips to a rousing review of another writer’s work which segues into the floating and expansion of new ideas.
And the afternoon passes, the sun goes down, more beer is drunk, the conversation swirls, the energy rises, ideas coalesce, fears are dispelled, new tricks are learnt, coats are put on against the chill and the friends drift from the bar to a restaurant and someone mentions…
This is collaboration at its finest. No stated out come, no manuscripts or red pens, no timelines or contracts. This is collaboration in its most elemental, organic state.
It doesn’t have to be in a bar and doesn’t always involve alcohol (though I admit some of my most favourite times have had both). Sometimes it’s had while wandering along a beach in the splendid late afternoon sun or in a car on a long journey. Other times it’s on a couch or at a kitchen bench or long distance on Skype with one party freezing and the other complaining about the most recent heat wave. It doesn’t really matter where or what… the essence of collaboration is who.
Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals is an imperative. Writers (and readers) who are open, generous and energetic. People who believe an idea only grows when shared. I am where I am today, as a writer, editor and publisher because of the people around me. Writing friends understand you in a way non-writing friends and family don’t. Soul food for a writer is the time spent in the company of other writers.
eMergent was born from a very late night conversation on Facebook chat between Paul and I. It started with a crazy idea for an interconnected short story anthology (what became Chinese Whisperings, and the very first anthology The Red Book). I wasn’t looking for a business partner, Paul wasn’t looking to go into business. Neither of us were thinking of a publishing house or anything vaguely in that ball park. At 1:30am that Saturday I was just looking for acknowledgement my idea crazy idea didn’t suck. Then something magikal happened and what you see here at Write Anything is just a small part of what that original creative spark ignited. In the past four years Paul and I have walked many interesting, terrifying and ecstatic paths together and at the foundation of it all is: a shared love of writing and stories, interlaced with an appreciation of the talents of others. And one of these days we might actually meet face to face, and enjoy one or two ‘panic pills’.
I’ve been involved in many collaborative projects in the past four years which I’ve enjoyed, learnt from and grown as a writer, editor and publisher. Without a doubt there will be many more in the future. In it all though, the collaboration I value above all else… is the face to face time I have with my writer friends, chewing the fat, laughing, revelling in each others company and coming away energised and focused, my creative momentum in over drive.
In my perfect world there would be a portal in our living room and through that shimmering doorway I’d walk into the living rooms of any one of a dozen writing friends across Australia and overseas, or conversely, have them here. My wildest dreams don’t involve a best-selling book (though that would be nice), winning a major award (again that would be nice) having millions of dollars, never again having to work or living in an exotic location. My wildest dream is having all my writing friends, from across the globe, all in the one room, with limitless alcohol, food and music, for just one evening together. Oh, and the ability to stop time. So that one evening would never have to end.
Sharing thoughts, ideas – working together. Creating something from two or minds instead of one.
I’ve seen both the good and the bad side of collaborations with the first idea that you must have a clear vision of what you hope to accomplish. What’s the purpose of the project and what’s the future of the project? Those are very important questions to ask. If you’re going to be writing something that involves money, it’s important to have some kind of contractual agreement in place. The contract should state in clears (1) the rights to the body of work for both authors (2) the length of time the rights are in place (3) the monetary split between the authors and (4) any other necessary details.
Now, sure, a contract?
That may seem a little overboard if you’re talking about, say, a short story or a smaller project, but it’s still a good idea to have to something in writing to make it well known between the two authors about their rights.
I may be jumping the gun to the more serious part of collaboration here mainly because a friend of mine had been recently upset become someone they had worked with in the past took their original idea and used it to write a book and publish that book.
However there are the plenty of good that can come from collaboration. If paired with the right person you will two sets of ideas that should mesh together and really create something fun.
One of the keys to collaboration is setting goals and understanding who is to do what and when. It’s funny how these months are working for me because I just got done working on a collaboration project with a friend. This friend I’ve never met face to face, only via Twitter, Facebook, etc. Our writing styles are different but our passion for writing seemed to matched, along with the genres we enjoyed. When the chance came up we both jumped at it. And for me, it was a pleasure working with the person. The communication was spot on, the deadlines were met, and most of all – we had fun. We bounced ideas off each other, came up with a plan, and executed that plan. (And the best part of this was that the story we worked on was accepted into an upcoming anthology!)
Communication is always an important factor but even more so with collaborating with another writer. You have to be able to “be together” even when you’re not. And this can be problematic when time zones come into play – looking at my watch right now, it’s 3:24pm here in Pennsylvania but if I were talking to a friend in, say, Australia, it’s 5:24am tomorrow morning. Thankfully we have emails, Tweets, messages, and even Skype to keep this big old world smaller than ever.
The communication also has to be an open communication meaning each party isn’t afraid to speak. Each person should have the ability to speak their mind – what they like, what they don’t like, suggested edits, titles, etc. Again, I’ll go back to something I mentioned earlier – FUN. Collaboration should be fun. I look at it as a chance for you to pair up with another great writer and explore. From a readership standpoint it’s a plus because your partner’s readers (those who may not read you) will get a chance to read you and the same goes for your readers with your partner. It’s a way of branching out to something different something, something new.
It’s take effort, sure, because you’re putting together two styles of writing. But if done right – and you have FUN – the outcome is great.
“Hell is other people.” — Jean-Paul Sartre (No Exit: A Play in One Act)
Last year I got my first real taste of collaborative prose writing as one of twenty authors included in 2010′s Chinese Whisperings: The Yin and Yang books. The concept of Chinese Whisperings is elegantly simple: short fiction anthologies in which each story ripples into the next. Only with the 2010 offering things were made even more exciting/complicated (delete as appropriate) with each story rippling back into the stories that preceded it as well across the two volumes, The Yin and The Yang books.
Like most things these days I discovered Chinese Whisperings via twitter. Following CW editor Jodi Cleghorn’s tweets last year led me to the then very red CW website. This was around this time last year, back when Jodi, Paul and the ten writers of The Red Book were busy promoting eMergent Publishing’s first collection of intertwined short fiction. I loved the idea and promptly set about tweeting about it to anyone who might listen. I reviewed the collection on my blog, super impressed at the range of genre and style possible within a collection of stories set within the same fictional world. All of which explains why, when asked if I wanted to take part in this years Chinese Whisperings anthologies, I didn’t hesitate. And the biggest draw? The excitement of writing in conjunction with twenty other authors.
Actually writing my story was the easy part, just as the tip of the ice berg is the pretty floaty bit. I made no secret that right up to the start date for my writing slot I had no idea at all what I was going to write about. That Monday morning I sat down at my typewriter, kids safely delivered to school, I found my inspiration in a news story and set about building my characters around a simple premise. In a day or two I had my first draft. That was when the real work began.
I knew from my outsider’s view of The Red Book’s creation, that writing for CW would be a collaborative experience, both with the editors and the other writers, one that would, of necessity, be fluid and organic as possible connections between stories became actual. I wasn’t prepared for just how that collaboration would help me grow as a writer. Nor had I anticipated just how exciting it was to see other writers take my characters and show them back to me.
Over the course of drafting my story I travelled down dead ends with Tony Noland as we crafted a great crossover point in our stories only to realise too late such a meeting was physically impossible due to the inconvenience of airport security check-ins, learnt something about one of my duo of main characters that had a real impact on my subsequent drafts from watching her do her thing in Claudia Osmond’s story for The Yin Book. By the time my story was complete I had incorporated a character from Jason Coggin’s story, whose relationship with my duo shed real light on some of the darker parts of my tale, while Annie Evett managed to reveal to me more about both my characters as she folded them into her story. I thought taking part in the collaborative side of CW would be fun, but I didn’t expect to be shown something new and totally intrinsic about my characters during the process, yet that is exactly what these talented authors did. All them gifted me wonderful details that helped expose the hidden desires of Calvin and his mother.
Like anything worth doing, writing for Chinese Whisperings was a lot of work, not least for our two tireless editors. As a writer I learnt a great deal from sharing a playground and letting other writers play with my toys. Having to accommodate other writers’ visions has made me a little less precious about my own, while the fresh perspectives provided by so many talented collaborators has helped me to see further into the characters in my own writing over the last year.
About this time last year we were all in the throes of hammering out first drafts, redrafts or final drafts of our stories; each round of stories, with their new characters and outlooks, leading to new and fresh takes on our own. Writing is often a solitary marathon undertaken with just a laptop and notebook for company. Taking part in Chinese Whisperings was more of a fun run undertaken with friends. If you get the chance to take part in similar project, check your ego at the door and run with it. Your writing self will be fitter and happier as a result, taking that energy into back into your own subsequent work. Looks like Sartre’s comment might need qualifying.
Spoken Sunday Submission #21 for 26th of June, 2011
For full details check the page.
How To Play:
1. After you have submitted to [Fiction] Friday – or written a passage of around 600 words, record it.
2. On your blog, or audioboo site, post an explanation of your piece (if its a passage from a larger work) or ask readers for specific feedback about it – as well as a link to your recording.
3. Use the link generator below to submit your link.
4. Visit other’s posts and recordings.
5. Leave constructive and encouraging comments.
6. Use Twitter (with our hashtag of #spokensunday) or Facebook etc to tell your network about the stories posted up.
7. Come back again next week!
If you’re participating in the Write Anything meme, please leave a link to your entry below. If you are not participating, please don’t leave a link. People who aren’t playing will be removed.