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Just Add Beer

June 29, 2011

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.

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