Tag Archives: collaboration

The Myth of the Solitary Artist

14 Mar

Though the image of many famous artists is that of the painter or writer slaving away by themselves in their lonely studio or hunched over their antique typewriter high up in a tower somewhere, I have learned the exact opposite about the art of creating art.

Smithsonian castle sepia

Smithsonian ‘castle’

Art is never created in a vacuum. At the very least, artists are inspired and informed by the world around them. For some it is cities, for others: mountains. Or flowers or waterfalls or people. They observe color, light, movement, sound and they translate it onto their canvas, whatever canvas that is. For me, it’s a page and my paint is made of words.

My fellow writers are a treasure trove of stories not only because of their vast imaginations but because they feed their imaginations. Many love to travel, some to the opposite side of the globe, learning about different cultures and traditions; others to the closest subway station, eavesdropping on the conversations around them. The world is their collaborator though it doesn’t always know it.

In my experience writing is a team sport. Beyond gleaning from their interaction with the world, writers actively partner with many, many people most of whom give of their time freely in order to help that writer’s vision come to life. Here’s a short list:

  • Critique partners who give honest and necessary feedback in the earliest stages (love ya OWLS!)
  • Fellow writers in the community and at conferences who give encouragement and support
  • Bloggers who provide information, resources, and sometimes exposure and connections
  • More experienced writers who serve as mentors (thank you Lisa Lewis Tyre!)
  • Beta readers who give even more feedback once the story is complete
  • Industry professionals who attend conferences and contests giving information and sometimes feedback
  • Agents who generously provide feedback even when they’ve decided your work is not a fit for them
  • Agents who say “YES” and agree to represent you who help you get your manuscript into shape to sell and then work their tails off to sell your book on only promise of payment IF they sell it
  • Editors who read your work and provide feedback even if they will not be acquiring it
  • The editor who does agree to acquire it (squee!!) who works with you to polish it into the final product

Okay, so the list isn’t that short. And it doesn’t even include the whole team at the publishing house who helps ensure your book actually hits shelves (physical or electronic) with cover art and a minimum of typos. Which proves my point. Writing is a team sport. Don’t go it alone.

Without my writing “team”, I would not have completed two novel-length manuscripts and I wouldn’t have been able to see my stories with fresh eyes and take them to new levels. Of course, I haven’t yet added an agent or editor to my team. But I hope to soon. I’ve got some fabulous agents reading my work. Keep your fingers crossed that one of them is the right match for me.


Collaboration is Like Fusion

4 Apr

I had coffee a few mornings ago with a friend who has turned her creative passion into her profession: photography.  For that reason, among many others, I admire her.  Her photos look like they should be in a magazine.  Creativity seems to burst out of every seam with her.  And yet, there are times when her creative well is dry.

She is currently working on revising her website and marketing materials and has engaged a professional web designer.  Though she could do it herself (and has in the past,) “I’m just tapped out,” she says, of the ideas and energy she has already put into it.  (See her current site and some amazing photos at simplyshelbyphoto.com)

By bringing another creative mind to the mix, she will gain new ideas, new perspectives, something to ‘bounce off of’.   Actually, she’ll have the power of not just two, but three: she has also engaged a graphic designer, who is now collaborating with the web designer, something she’s been told is not always the case.

I’m excited to see what they produce.  It’s been my experience that, like nuclei, creative minds often release energy when they are brought together. And this can fuel some amazing work.  It can be the thing that gets a project off the ground, or over the finish line.  It’s why Vivi and I decided to collaborate on writing our YA novel.  Alone, I’m not sure either one of us could have, or would have, gotten there.  But together, we did it.  Now, we are collaborating on finding an agent.

What creative project are you working on that has stalled?  Have you considered finding a collaborator? Or perhaps just talking to another creative type about the project?  Whatever they say, even if it’s totally different than what you think (especially if it’s totally different,) it may provide that spark you need.

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