If you don’t count working with editors, I’ve done all my writing alone. But I have found myself wondering how writers work as a team. Well, Ken Hicks and Anne Rothman-Hicks have kindly shared that information with me for today’s post.
How and why do we write as a couple?
We first started writing together when we were in College – Anne at Bryn Mawr College and Ken at Haverford College. We asked one of Ken’s favorite English professors at Haverford to oversee a project course in which we would write a work of juvenile fiction over the course of a semester and he agreed. We talked about what we wanted to do, prepared a somewhat sketchy outline, and started writing. One of us would prepare a draft of a chapter and the other person would then work on it, then we would talk some more, plan some more, and write some more. The process continued until we had a finished book. That was approximately 44 years ago.
What we learned very quickly back then has remained true throughout the course of our writing together.
First, you must put your ego aside. You must be willing to accept the criticism of your partner as valid and, even if you don’t agree, you must be willing to understand why the criticism is being made. In other words, you may not like the change that is proposed, but you can still agree that some change to the prose is necessary.
Second, you must put your ego aside. You must be willing to be partners, which means not taking credit for a particular sentence or paragraph or line of dialogue. What comes out on the page is a finished product of the partnership – of the process of two people thinking, talking and working together.
Third, you must put your ego aside. Okay, you get the message?
The benefits of the writing partnership are extensive. During those dark nights of the soul when you wonder why you are bothering to put pen to paper or pound those keys, there is someone to pull you out of your funk, kick you in the rear end, or pat you on the back, whatever might be needed. During the good times, you have someone to share you happiness in a way that probably no one else in the world can understand or appreciate better than your partner. You also have the memories of the process itself. We still laugh at a few of the things that we wrote — and regretted — over the course of our years together.
And laughter brings me back to the ego thing again. You really have to be able to laugh at yourself and not take yourself too seriously. You’re writing a book. Do the best you can with the talent you have – and do that always. But enjoy yourself. We always have and hopefully will continue to do so for many years.
Kenneth Hicks and Anne Rothman-Hicks
Kate and the Kid, (adult fiction)(Wings ePress)
Stone Faces, (middle grade)(on the Apple iBookstore)
Hearts (no flowers) Signs of Love in the Gritty City (on the Apple iBookstore)
Mind Me, Milady, (adult fiction)(coming in October, Barbarian Books)
Theft of the Shroud (adult fiction) (Banbury/Putnam)
Series of Ten Books on Children’s names (Banbury/Putnam)