John Bodin and I are, once again, committing collaboration on another piece inspired by the Indy 500. These are great fun to write. First, I think John’s a great idea guy, and so that’s just fun to be around. Second, writing about the 500 reminds me of my grandfather, who made his living running a service station, and whose passion for cars and auto racing almost certainly instilled a similar interest in me (though don’t expect me to fix much of anything on a car these days). I will always remember sitting on his back porch and listening to the race on an old radio on a hot day in May, the aluminum glasses of coke we had sitting on a wire-frame table and sweating in the humidity of the noontime in late May.
Anyway, John sent me a draft of a story a few days back. I read it through the first time and, sure enough, it had some great ideas in it, and characters of interest, and a twist that was so, so sweet. I let it sit a day and went back to it. Yes, it was missing a bit, but I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I did some streamlining, mostly to get a feel for the characters. I took maybe 400 words out of the story. Then, as I was finishing up that activity I was struck by some questions. I spent five minutes in a furious free-writing exercise wherein I created a paragraph each about who these characters were, and what they cared about. As I went upstairs I thought about their family lives–who do they have close to them? What were their dreams? Had they achieved them? How did those dreams drive their actions in the story?
And then (warning: stereotypical cliche coming) in the shower (yes, I know, too much info), it hit me what needed to happen to make this work fully for me.
The cool thing here is that I can actually see these things in the draft John wrote. I have no idea if they are there on purpose or whether they are there as part of the subconscious of John’s creative process. Or perhaps they are only there to my eyes, which are tied to a brain with both these pre-conceived notions and its all-to-human propensity to see patterns where none exist. Who knows? All I can say is that I really like what’s come together for me, and I’m betting John will, too. We’re good collab partners, so it seems to just kind of work like that for us.
Anyway, I spent half the morning doing some research, and the other half beginning to re-sketch part of the story. With luck, it’ll be back in his court in a couple days.
Some say a collaboration is twice the work for half the pay. This may be true. But with the right collaborator, it’s also twice the fun.