responsibility

Monday Musings: Give and Take, Push and Pull a.k.a. The Art of Collaboration

Collaborative writing is a fascinating thing. I’ve never been really involved with it before the past few months, but I’ve always wanted to try it. Obviously when I was given the opportunity, I jumped at the chance.

Needless to say, it’s been a real learning experience for me. Collaboration means many things to many people and the first step is to define exactly what that collaboration means for, uh, that, uh, collaboration. Who has what responsibilities? How much interaction will the writing team have? Who has final say on things? Who’s footing the bills and who’s in creative control?

There’s a lot that goes into just that essential first step! However, it’s vital to get all of that done, as it makes every other step of the creative process that much easier. After that, if you set up everything well, you get to step into a truly revolutionary creative experience.

There’s one big rule when it comes to the actual writing part though, one that took me a few days to really get down. It’s a give and take process. No matter who has what duties, outside of that vital final call thing, it is something that all the writers are pouring themselves into. Even if one writer has ‘primary’ writing duties, s/he isn’t the sole writer! It’s not called a collaboration because one person’s doing the job, right?

If you ever get the chance to enter a collaboration, I’d wholeheartedly suggest going for it. It’s a brilliant learning experience and, if you make sure to have everything laid out properly, a hell of a lot of fun as well!

Until next time, good reading, good writing, and good luck!

We’ve All Signed It: Authors and the social contract

I mentioned in a previous articles, as an aside, that writers are judged by what they write and how they write it.  At the time, it was merely a small comment relevant to the topic of the article but I realize that I want to revisit that and expand upon that.  Really, it goes beyond a simple matter of image, with authors judged personally by what they write.  I believe that authors, as much as anyone else who creates things for the public consumption, have a duty to their readers and to themselves to not spread certain harmful social constructs.  That sounds all academic, but it’s really something that should be common sense.

 

Books have many purposes: education and entertainment are foremost among them.  One can certainly argue that authors, like any artist, should have unlimited freedom to pursue their creative goals.  While I would argue we do deserve a huge amount of said freedom, at the same time, there is such a thing as harmful speech and what, if nothing else, is a book but written speech?  The point being is that books, like speech, have the power to spread ideas and emotion, both for good and for ill.

 

Going forward from that idea, can we not agree then that it is important for us as the generators of this speech to be held responsible for its effects?  Certainly, good works and enlightening works should be held up and respected.  Likewise, those who write harmful or slanderous tracts need to be looked on with scorn.  It is sadly easy for fictional works to be dismissed as ‘harmless’ when instead they spread harmful notions and ideas.  Sure, it may ‘just be a book’, but all books, fictional or not, plant the seeds of thoughts and ideas.  Maybe that harmful seed is ignored, expunged from the soil of the mind like the foul thing it is, but just as often it can take root and spread, plunging the garden of thought into a dark, weed-filled, and decaying morass.

 

Just as with the ideal government, authors too sign, whether they wish to or not, a social contract with the public.  I think it’s important for us to realize this and keep it in mind always.  While I certainly don’t wish to suggest that there shouldn’t be books that look at the negative parts of life, they should be handled factually and appropriately.  There are things that shouldn’t be glamorized or put on a pedestal.  There are cultures and activities around even today that, when brought to life on the page, should be cast in the dark shadows that they rightfully should be.  Rape culture, sexism, racism, injustice, slavery, any violation of human rights, murder … you may not be able to avoid them coming into your works, especially realistic ones, and there is good reason to confront these things … but it’s important to avoid the temptation to sensationalize or elevate any of these things into something to be tolerated, admired, or even loved.

 

No matter what you write or how you write it, remember what you signed before you even began to put a word on the page.  Remember your fellow man and the involuntary impact your word can have on his or her life.  Be responsible.