Tuesday, 4 September 2012


Two heads are better than one.

We have a project for college, where we need to produce a piece of fiction for other students to edit. In turn, we will edit their work. The twist is that we are working in groups producing this work. The kink is that is has to be a sci-fi piece set in a dystopian future. Challenging.

I had my group with two other (great) people. In session one, we brainstormed a slew of ideas, which I captured for us and sent on to them. In session two, the others weren't able to make it to class, so I took the liberty of fleshing out the material, which I sent on again.

I'm trying not to take it personally that both of my group members left the course, gaining mid-year acceptances into university courses.  ;  )

'So,' I thought, 'I'll write up a piece of text and submit that. With my now-apparent verbosity, it shouldn't be a challenge to get to the 5k word limit.' But I forgot that part of the point of this assessment is that it's a group project. Yikes. One of the reasons I wasn't tying a noose about having to write the piece on my own is because I work better on my own. Sure, I've collaborated on business writing with others. But never on creative writing. Somehow, I'd decided that this wasn't something that would work for me.

Enter the my superb future writing partner. She was in another, larger group. She heard of my dilemma. Nobly — some would say, foolishly — she agreed to jump ship and join my 'Nigel-No-Friends' pas de un.

We went through all of the notes. We talked it through. We emailed. I went away and produced a mammoth slab of text. After I revived her with smelling salts, she reviewed and edited the text and made wise cuts. She then went away and wrote more material. I said it looked great, and just today I get her full, FANTASTIC section to add to mine. Whoo and hoo!

So, I've now edited — perhaps I've even over-edited, as I'm still new to this — her fabulous text. I've combined it with mine. You don't want to know what the word count is. It's somewhere north of 5k. Somewhere far north.

The next step is to refine our combined text. Cuts will need to be made. Most of them will be in my section. Then we'll review it again. The litmus test will be sitting down over coffee and cake to read it aloud. I've found this year that this shows up all the little imperfections in a piece. We'll finally tweak it, and hey presto! we should have 'War and Peace' for another group of our fellow students to edit. So, despite my inherent control freakiness, it looks like I am indeed able to collaborate when it comes to creative writing. Better still, I've actually enjoyed the process. Amongst other things, it's taught me how to trust a fellow writer.

As for the word limit, I'm including a bottle of Valium when I submit the piece to my teacher.

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