The one thing I never much liked about the book writing process is how solitary it can be. Going away for months, maybe years to make something before anyone else gets involved doesn’t work for me. I prefer to be more interactive. It’s a big part of why I love performance- that immediacy of engagement with an audience.
Currently I’m very collaborative on the performance front – as part of a team of four who go out as The Ominous Folk of Hopeless, Maine. Hopeless, Maine is itself a really collaborative project – I primarily work with Tom Brown on this, but there’s a much bigger family of writers, artists, performers, and makers who sometimes also get involved with things.
I’ve got one co-writing project on the go at the moment. I’m working with David Bridger, which is a lovely process and taking me to some decidedly interesting places.
Recently I’ve been exploring other ways of taking a more collaborative approach to books. Back in the winter I was working on my Earth Spirit book, and I had a test reader who took content one chapter at a time and gave me really valuable feedback. Said test reader is also going to be involved with the new Pagan Pilgrimage project, and we’re figuring out how exactly that might work, which is exciting. I’ve also been talking to a lot of people about their pilgrimage experiences, and intend to do a lot more of that, because I want this project to be about more than my own limited experiences.
Every now and then I see something online where people in the writing business make unhappy noises about anything they see as limiting imagination. Issues of accuracy and sensitivity readers come up a lot. As though an uninformed imagination is something to be proud of. The whole notion of the lonely author in the high tower making things out of their own ideas has always seemed suspect to me. What use is an author without insight and understanding? What good are we if all we can put into the world is versions of ourselves?
Creativity is a human activity, made by humans, about humans and for humans. It seems very odd to me to try and do that without really involving other people. I doubt I’d have very much to say at all if I sat in the metaphorical high tower trying to squeeze stories out of myself. It’s the interactions with other people that inspire me. It’s the opportunities to connect with other people that I get excited about. I’m always looking for new ways to connect because I know I’m a better writer when I do that.