Collaborative Writing

What follows are thoughts that have been whirling around in my head lately, and after much consideration I have decided to put those thoughts here so that writers thinking about entering a collaborative project have something to think about.

Obviously, I’m part of a collaborative work. My writing partner lives on the other side of the world and I’ve never actually met him but he was a part of my online writing group. He approached me about writing a fantasy novel together but it was not something I jumped into without thought.

The positive side – the story might be written, refined, and accepted for publication. This might be my foot in the door for my own work.

The negative side – he could pull a swifty and get the work published without me knowing. If I found out about anything like this, a lengthy court case would follow because I honestly could not rest otherwise.

There is a risk involved when writing with someone else. I’m usually not a risk taker but on this occasion the benefits lured me. Publication is my dream and I really didn’t want to kick myself in later years for not giving this a go.

However, there are other things to collaborative writing that I never considered. For instance, I have no control over the amount of time between chapters. This is very frustrating. It wouldn’t be so bad if the other person kept me informed (I’m a person who needs to know what’s happening) but he doesn’t. I send emails and he doesn’t reply. This is making me angry.

In 2003, I sent off a chapter and didn’t hear from him for 12 months. That’s right, 12 months. He then contacted me and said he’d been offered a contract for three of his own books and had to meet rewriting deadlines so our project was put on the back burner. That’s fine but why didn’t he let me know? Why did he leave me hanging for 12 months?

Six months ago we picked up where we left off. Again, communications have not been satisfactory and the chapters are taking too long to get to me. Now, I haven’t heard from him in over two months and again, my emails are not being answered.

My reaction to this:
I’m sick of the lack of communication and the long delay between chapters. I’m sick of receiving chapters so far apart that they mean nothing to me and I have to reread the manuscript to get back into the flow. This wouldn’t happen if he got his chapters back to me in a timely fashion. I’m finding the whole process stressful, and I don’t need stress in my life. Because of this, I am thinking of pulling out but what would happen then? The manuscript is three quarters of the way through, we were working steadily to the climax and the finale. If I gave this away now, then that puts an end to a great story. Or would it? What if he finishes it and gets it published without giving me the credit I deserve?

These are the thoughts whirling around in my mind. Doomed if I do, doomed if I don’t. I can’t make him write the chapters; and, getting angry is not good for my well being. I’m finding that my emails to him are starting to get curt and abrupt, which only makes things worse. My next email will probably spill over into nasty!

Do I cut my loses or do I struggle on? It wasn’t meant to be like this, and if you’re thinking of doing a collaborative piece, I’d be very careful. Don’t rush into anything, and set up rules beforehand. Better still…don’t do it!!!

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