Write Together is a journal as interested in process as product.
Collaboration seems inherent to the way that we work. Through Write Together we wanted to offer ways that writers could create together from the outset. We know that although most writers write alone, we believe that new possibilities or ideas can come to the fore when we change or challenge our usual processes. And I think the experience of our first set of writers really demonstrated that!
When Pip joined Writers Practice, we quickly got stuck into how to make a publication that celebrates and encourages collaboration from idea to reality. So, we are excited that this first issue is alive and grateful to the writers who participated.
We first asked for participants back in December 2020 and after the isolation of last year, this project seemed timely. We decided to start small with the first issue, as a pilot to check the processes. Writers were paired randomly but with an awareness of the things they had said they wanted to get out of the process. We sent some guidance about how the pairs might want to work together and then left everyone to it. At the end of the two month period, we received these thoughtful works, both of which feel like they would have been very different without the collaborative process.
The process of creation is apparent in both works and all the writers mentioned the importance of the relationships that developed during the collaborations. Rachel Kleinsman and Susan Elliot write of each other, “Being tasked with creating something from scratch with a writer who is so sharp and witty as Susan (particularly in her dialogue) made for an energising collaborative process.” and “The opportunity to write collaboratively appealed especially after Rachel shared some of her beautifully descriptive writing. Our project looks at moments of intersections that can be measured in heartbeats.”
Keryn Mells and Craig Major supplied an insightful summary of their process. It shows the degree of negotiation needed for a collaboration like this. It is particularly interesting to see how their ‘two minds’ worked together to solve problems and take advantage of the opportunities their character-first approach allowed them. From its genesis in an exercise taught by Catherine Chidgey taught in her 2020 Kāpiti Writer’s Retreat workshop, through the back-and-forward around how best to use these characters, to the ‘useful’ constraint of a deadline, this description of process is an useful and astute case-study for anyone wanting to work collaboratively.
Acquisition is a work that relies heavily on its multiple voices and perspectives and it feels like it benefits strongly from having two authors. You can read about how Keryn and Craig worked together which is a wonderful addition to the work and a great pathfinder for authors wanting to write collaboratively.
Heartbeats is also a beautiful piece of writing which took a slightly different approach. The work begins with more distinct voices, and gets a lot of its energy through the way this conversation between the two authors draws closer and closer as the story develops. It finally ends with both writers ‘in the same room’ so to speak, culminating in a stunning meeting of hearts and minds.
Thank you for being our first pairs Rachel, Susan, Craig and Keryn, we are so grateful for your openness, enthusiasm and commitment to the work and this project.
We are also really looking forward to our next issue. You can sign up here: Applications close 31 May 2021 and we will pair you by mid June.