Posts tagged with "collaboration" - Faerye Net 2009-10-06T13:09:25+00:00 Felicity Shoulders Collaborating 2009-10-06T13:09:25+00:00 2009-10-06T13:51:31+00:00 <p>Until recently, collaborating on a work of fiction sounded a bit like climbing a mountain: too much work to contemplate. But then a friend asked if I&#8217;d consider working with her, and she had enough reasons it was a great idea for both of us that I put on my crampons. Not only is it my first collaborative project, but it&#8217;s my first attempt at writing to a pre-selected theme, so I&#8217;m learning plenty about my own processes along the way.</p> <p>But one thing I&#8217;ve discovered isn&#8217;t about me or my writing: collaborating seems to be far more common in spec-fic than in other genres. This may seem obvious to you, gentle reader, but it didn&#8217;t sink in for me until a literary-type writer asked me how my writing was going. I mentioned I was collaborating on a story and got a blank look. I explained a bit further, and he still looked surprised at the idea. &#8220;It&#8217;s not uncommon in speculative fiction,&#8221; I found myself saying. And that&#8217;s true.</p> <p>There are lots of temporary team-ups: Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Moon; P.K. Dick and Roger Zelazny; one book written by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Julian May, and Andre Norton. One of my favorite collaborations is <em>Good Omens</em> by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Most of the long-term writing teams I know of are romantic partners who write together, from Janet and Isaac Asimov to Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon. But all of these collaborations, which I remembered off the top of my head, are in fantasy or science fiction. I&#8217;ve met plenty of people who&#8217;ve collaborated on short stories too &#8212; all of them writing spec fic.</p> <p>So what&#8217;s going on here? Perhaps literary fiction is very invested in the <a href="" target="links">genius model</a> of creation. If writing is something transcendent that happens in the fecund mind of an individual, how can it be shared between two? Of course, I didn&#8217;t find a lot of unabashed proponents of the genius model when I was in grad school: literary writers seem to have become a bit more pragmatic. Well then, perhaps it&#8217;s the implied compromise: in my experience, the literary world does see the author as striving toward an ideal artistic vision. How can two people share the same vision, and won&#8217;t they both have to compromise in order to finish the work?</p> <p>Of course, trying to cast this as an effect of literary aloofness is ignoring another important piece of anecdata. I have read a lot of mysteries &#8212; and, living with my mom, seen the covers of many more &#8212; and I can&#8217;t recall an actual coauthor. (Feline coauthors, in my humanocentric opinion, do not count.) I don&#8217;t have any expertise at all in romance, but my limited impressions don&#8217;t include two names on the cover. If it were just literary fiction that resisted collaboration, why wouldn&#8217;t I have seen at least a few co-written books in these genres?</p> <p>So it is I come to my current working theory: it&#8217;s not about literary fiction, or about what spec-fic isn&#8217;t. It&#8217;s about fandom and what spec-fic is. Fandom is a riot of people building on each others&#8217; ideas, enjoying each others&#8217; worlds and characters. It includes many gamers, who are used to the idea that a story, even an interesting or epic story can emerge from the contributions of four or five people sitting around a table. Maybe it isn&#8217;t that other sorts of fiction have a resistance to collaboration so much as that collaboration just doesn&#8217;t come up in those circles. Whether it came from writers geeking out over each others&#8217; worlds, people around a gaming table or established authors wanting to nurture and promote newer ones, team-writing seems to have a tradition within science fiction and fantasy (and horror?) that it doesn&#8217;t have elsewhere.</p> <p>What do you think? Have you read collaborations in other genres? Am I overlooking something about team-written spec-fic? Who wants to be the only voice in a discussion about collaboration, anyway?</p>