Glimmers of Possibility

            So this is what my collaborative world looks like.
            At any given moment throughout the day, I might be contacted by someone for a potential book project. I’m not talking about the daily thing I hear from everybody, that “hey do I have a book idea for you!” sort of thing.
            No, usually it’s my agent who contacts me, though sometimes there are others as well. Typically she doesn’t have a lot of information. In fact, many times she only has a tiny sliver of it. A name and an idea. It’s always exciting when my agent calls or emails about these glimmers of possibility. They’re fun to think about.
            They also usually send me frantically starting to educate myself on a person, place or thing.
            So let’s back-up a minute. In case you don’t know, I’m not some famous, best-selling author. What’s the opposite of best-selling? The thesaurus says “inferior, last, poor.” Am I an unknown, inferior-selling author? No, not exactly, though if you ask me at any given point throughout the day, I might tell you otherwise.
            Since I’m not, in the words of the Peter Gabriel song, BIG TIME, I have to navigate these very uncertain waters of publishing. Technology has never made it easier to be published, meaning there are millions of books available. We live in an everything-is-awesome-and-most-of-it’s-free world these days. If you’re an artist, it’s a struggle to earn any kind of money simply because there’s a wealth of everything out there.
            I’m going on nearly eight years of being a full-time writer which seems miraculous in itself. But I’ve been able to do that by collaborating. And honestly—I really love it.
            This is the season of collaborations for me. The great thing is that I’m becoming good at them and developing a reputation for doing quality and fast work. Often, the latter is a necessity.
            So I might get my agent forwarding an email to me from another agent or an editor at a publishing house. My agent will usually ask what I think. Pretty much all the time I tell her it sounds great and to keep me in the loop. I begin to already start thinking about it.
            This is one of the problems with collaborations.
            For a writer, thinking is work. I’m not one of those who sits by the river contemplating on life and then considering it work. But still—it takes time to formulate ideas. For me it’s usually less than a second but that’s me. With collaborations, I need to get more information fast. Like the following:
It’s a novelization? What’s the film about? Does it have a trailer? Who’s in it? Who made it?
It’s a biography/memoir? Who’s the person? What’s their story and what do they want and how quickly do they want it?
It’s a concept for a novel that I have to come up with based on XYZ? So give me more info on XYZ. You don’t have any info? When will you have it?  
Ever since Becky Nesbitt at Howard Books contacted my agent in 2009 about the potential of two collaborations (which resulted in Letters from War with Mark Schultz and Paper Angels with Jimmy Wayne), I’ve had a series of different projects coming my way. Some have been amusing, some thrilling, and some downright strange. For me, ideas come easily, and they come quickly, too. It’s nothing to put ten difference concepts on paper the night I might get a possibility like this. The difficulty comes in getting a green light.
I have a folder in my email inbox called NO GO’S. These are all the projects that came my way that looked really possible. Not complete longshots or out-there possibilities. These are all ones I might have done work on or even spoken to people about. Right now I have 15 of these folders, but there have been more.
One thing I always have to do is keep my mouth shut. Anytime these possibilities come, a part of me wants to tweet and share things about them on my Facebook page. I can’t believe I might be doing a novel with Manny Pacquiao! Something like that. Of course, I have to remain mum. And also, no, I’ve never been in talks to do something with Manny Pacquiao. Yet.
I’m always working on something, whether it’s a collaboration or two or it’s one of the several fiction ideas I have. I might be editing a manuscript that came to me in one form or another. I’m always doing something. But there are times when the silence can seem very, very quiet. Then all of the sudden, there’s one project, then another. Suddenly the clock is ticking. If I’m given the green light, then I know life’s going to get a little more intense for a short while until I make the deadline.
I’m proud about my ability to make a deadline. The more of them I make, the more possibilities come my way.
This is part of living my dream. Part of being an artist today. But as I’ve said before, I enjoy these collaborations. I really do.
This week I’m finishing work on a business memoir. The whole experience has been thrilling. The guy I’m working with is a superstar businessman. He’s one of the most successful people I’ve ever met yet he’s more down-to-earth than most I’ve worked with. I’ve learned things from the words I’ve been writing. This job has also opened the doors to other possibilities. Yet I really can’t say much of anything about it. Not because it’s some massive secret. I simply want to be professional and respectful.
When someone I meet in passing tells me they have an idea for me, they have no idea what they’re really inferring. So I don’t have any good ideas of my own? So I’m just bored looking out my window waiting for something good to come my way? No, I realize that like so many others, they simply have some kind of meaningful life experience or story idea that means the world to them. I get it. I really do.
Sometimes the roads meet where I can use my talents to help someone share their life story or idea. Possibility knocks all the time. It knocks and then leaves for a while. Sometimes the door eventually opens. Other times it remains locked and silent.
The key in this collaborative season is having a door to knock, being able to open it whenever necessary, and then racing through when invited.

The journey is everything, right?

POSTSCRIPT: One thing to note is that weekly, sometimes daily, I throw out ideas to my agent or to various contacts I know. I might see something come my way (on television or social networks) that I throw a book idea out there for. For instance--after hearing Sean Lowe from The Bachelor was a Christian, I contacted his manager and talked about the possibility of a book. The manager got back to me. The book eventually came out & I had nothing to do with it, but it's still good to connect. I've corresponded with a manager of a favorite band of mine, The National, about possible book projects. They're always long shots when done this way, but all it takes is one email . . . for Taylor Swift's manager to invite me to give them some idea possibilities. (I'd be a rockstar father!) 

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