Random Collaboration

NOTE: I put Deb Blake’s author post up two weeks early by mistake, so it’s going up again in May. My apologies to Deb and everybody who tried to get the book now. Here, have a different post as an apology.

So Lavender’s Blue is moving along at a much faster pace now that Bob’s on board. Of course he’s also writing his sequel to Shane and the Hitwoman and now he’s taking three days off to go mountain climbing, so on Thursday when he gets back, I’ll be waiting for the “book done yet” e-mail that will lead me to say cruel things to him. In other words, it’s just like old times.

When we first started writing together, a million years ago, I told him that I had to do a discovery draft first so I never outline before that, and he explained that he outlined his books first (IN A SPREADSHEET, FOR CRIPE’S SAKE) and then wrote them in one draft. He also mentioned that writing without an outline was “daft,” and I bitched about being called “daft” on here, and he said he’d never said that, and I sent him a copy of the e-mail in which he said it, and he changed the subject. So now that we’re collaborating again, I showed him the act outline I was using for the revisions on the first two acts, and he said, “I don’t use acts, I just write whatever I want so I can see what happens.” And I said, “Well, I need acts or my stories go all over the place.” And then we looked at each other in e-mail and realized we’d switched brains in the past twenty years. I don’t care, we’re writing in acts. He’ll thank me later. Well, no he won’t, but he’ll be silently grateful. I’m sure.

The thing I’m remembering now is that while we fought a lot, it was never about the book. We both wanted the best book we could possibly do, so we really didn’t argue much about the content, we just discussed it a lot. Well, I discussed it. Bob said, “Just write it, I’ll fix it later.” He’s still saying that, and I’m still writing in acts, so we may end up killing each other anyway, but I don’t think so. For one thing, the book is good. For another, he’s fixing my plot and writing Vince, so I’m grateful. But the biggest reason is that we’re not standing next to each other. As Bob said once, we should never be in the same zip code.

I just wrote him a long e-mail about arcing the romance and the sex scenes in the first two acts. Bob does not like long e-mails, and he’s not crazy about writing sex and romance, either (that’s what I’m for). Since I have no idea if he’ll read it, I’ve reduced it to one sentence and sent that to him. He usually reads the one sentence e-mails. In this case, it’s “I know you didn’t read that last 904 word e-mail, so here’s what I need to know: Where Vince’s head is at Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday night.” And I just realized I should have written “What Vince is thinking and feeling” instead of asking where his head was, but I am confident that Bob will be mature and not go there.

We’re working with a new e-mail program that neither of us is sure about, but it has one wonderful feature: it puts your e-mail exchanges into a format that looks like chat, so you don’t have to follow e-mail threads, you just read the conversation. Like this:

So that’s hugely helpful.

Right now I’m researching weddings. I hate writing weddings. I’m not crazy about weddings in general which is why I eloped. I didn’t mind the wedding in Agnes because I didn’t really deal with it, but the wedding in this book is key, so I’m researching wedding customs, making sure I’ve got the processions down the aisle right, the way the reception works, the whole borrowed/blue bit. It’s good because I can use it all to build the story tension but it’s writing about a ceremony that is not something I get invested in. I already told Bob that Liz and Vince aren’t getting married. He, of course, doesn’t care. He’s ignoring the wedding to plot the murder and some other crimes.

There’s a raccoon in my kitchen. He comes in nightly and forages even though there’s nothing there for him unless he learns to open a can or the fridge door. I went into the kitchen Monday night at 2:30 AM (okay, Tuesday morning) to get a Diet Coke and the little bastard was sitting in the window between the kitchen and the workroom. If he’d had any respect, he’d have run for it, but he just sat there calmly, waiting for me to leave, looking vaguely annoyed that I was encroaching on his time. So I threw a potholder at him. Gotta fix that hole in the back door. He’s a cute little bugger (I’m trying not to name him but I think he’s a Bernie) but his last act was to tear open a bag of flour I had somehow left out. This does not strike me as a raccoon snack, so I assume he did it to annoy me. Definitely fixing the back door. Later.

I’ll fix it later because I have a book to write and a collaborator who is going to come back from the mountains expecting 65,000 words of a novel with no scenes missing. The last thing I need is both Bernie and Bob annoyed with me.

Bob wrote back before he left for the mountains and opened a new can of worms when he answered my question. He’s gonna have a lot of e-mails from me when he comes back down on Thursday. One of the many nice things about this new e-mail app is that I can see when the emails have been read, so I know he’s already read them and is now going to be up in the mountains, stewing over the problem, which is not what I want, but I need the answers, Bob. Trip to the mountains done yet?

Collaborating: It’s a lot like marriage, you have to keep working on the relationship or somebody leaves and goes to a higher plain.

30 thoughts on “Random Collaboration

  1. Hey you and Bob need any old cherry bombs?💣💣 This post brings back old times!

  2. I’m concerned about the raccoon. Once they establish a territory, they’re tough little buggers to deal with. You need to fix the hole in the door pronto!! Because he’s already decided he’s coming in.

  3. One thing I love about this website is the glimpse inside of your fascinating thought processes (I’ve been here long enough to expect a self-depricating response if you’re in blog mode). Now I am getting a glimpse into Bob’s fascinating thought processes as well.
    The icing on that cake is I also get a glimpse into you working together. I’m sorry it’s stressful for the two of you but it is enlightening for me.
    Besides prose I also write poetry sometimes. I was married to an artist & I had dreams of a collab where he illustrated a book of my poems. While no one died, we did divorce and though that was not the primary reason, working on that little chapbook sure did kill some illusions I had.
    All that said, I am still an evil opportunitst when it comes to wanting good books to read and I know that is what will come out of your collab with Bob so – stay sane & keep on keeping on!

    1. It’s actually not stressful working with Bob on the book. He’s made it a lot easier.
      It’s a very brother-sister relationship. If the brother and sister are about twelve.

  4. ^Insert-any-task “done yet?” questions are enough to lead me to say cruel things.

    I’m sorry you both might be peeved from time to time but YAY a possibly new finished publishable book??? Numfar, you b*stard, do the dance of joy.

    I love that you’ve both switched thoughts over method. This will make me giggle at odd moments as I go about my odd life.

    1. It was all about relationships, Vince’s back story, how they’re connecting in the first two acts, the romance arc. I looked to see if I could pull something out of it, but it’s mostly me babbling about Vince and Liz.

  5. This was fascinating. For the record, I actually am planning a f$&#ing wedding, for my daughter who got engaged over the Christmas holidays, in the same year where 30% more weddings are happening than usual because of all the ones that were postponed during the pandemic. So in January we’re calling around to get a venue, florist, caterer, DJ, etc and they are practically sneering at us: I’m sorry but we’ve been booked for over a year. Thank god daughter is 31 and can do much of it herself. Just I carse you want any period detail, with the period being now, there you go.

  6. My boyfriend and I have been successfully not married for more than 20 years now. I recommend not arranging a wedding as an excellent lifestyle choice.

    In other news, on my phone screen the line break on the heading of the last post put half the heading below the fold, giving me “happiness is no more”. Way more 2021 vibes than I needed. Ha! Totally counteracted by ‘new book on the horizon’ happy dance.

  7. A wedding is a religious ceremony followed by a large party. It is not, one hopes, the happiest day of one’s life.

    [Paraphrased from Miss Manners, many years ago now.]

    Funniest book about a wedding I ever recall: OH, WHAT A WONDERFUL WEDDING, by Virginia Rowans [pseud. Patrick Dennis / pseud. Edward Everett Tanner III]. Copies, if findable at all, are very expensive, but it smacks every wedding trope right in the behind.

      1. Wikipedia says yes. I think it’s interesting that he wrote the wedding book and some others using a female pseudonym. Usually it’s the women using a male pseudonym.

      2. It is indeed. A couple of the Rowans came first, and then he wrote AUNTIE MAME. There’s some overlap, and then he writes entirely as Patrick Dennis.

  8. I recommend non-traditional weddings, especially those involving traditional people. You can add a lot of tension to your plot by saying “Actually we don’t want rings” to an elderly priest.

    1. This is a marriage between two warring families and two people who are marrying for selfish reasons. There’s enough tension, trust me.

  9. And why aren’t the dogs chasing the raccoon out of the house? Maybe they recognize an additional housemate in the offing? Can raccoons be tamed?

    So many questions.

    1. The dogs and I pretty much live in the bedroom, so they stay in there snoozing while I go into the kitchen. Also they’re old.

    2. Apart from the thought that wild animals should stay wild, there’s also rabies to think about. Time to nail some plywood to the door. Or, Jenny, if you don’t have plywood handy, try a hardcover book that you don’t like. Although Bernie could probably chew his way through. How about nailing your defunct laptop to the door instead? 😉

  10. Ah, this brings back memories. I always love the Jenny-and-Bob-collab snark. I appreciate it may not necessarily be fun to live in real life, but hearing about it from the sidelines is endlessly entertaining.

    And you sound happy, which I definitely like. Maybe slightly exasperated, but happy.

    I have no experience with raccoons. Will he appear in the book?

    1. We’ve got too many characters in the book already, the raccoon will not be appearing.

      And no exasperation yet. I think (she said cautiously) we’re both older and wiser now. Well, I hope we would be.

  11. I’m so thrilled that the collaboration is going well. 🙂 Sounds like you’re having fun! And yay, this means a new book for us … sometime. Tell Bob not to fall off any mountains.

  12. I laughed out loud at the swapping of methods/brains. So glad to hear this is going well, and your new email program looks wonderful. What a great idea to be able to see the whole thing as chat.

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