this is what my collaborative world looks like.
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.
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
also usually send me frantically starting to educate myself on a person, place
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
is one of the problems with collaborations.
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:
novelization? What’s the film about? Does it have a trailer? Who’s in it? Who
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.
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.
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
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!)
Labels: collaborations, Process, works in progress