And then the magic happened…

The Gloaming - Photograph by Rhonda ParrishI really wanted to submit something to the Masked Mosaics anthology. I first learned about the anthology from my friend Beth. She writes a fair bit of superhero stuff, but I’d never written a superhero story in my life. It sounded like a fun challenge so I got to work.

By ‘got to work’ I mean I went through all my story idea notes, post-its and such to see if there was anything there I could put a superhero spin on. There wasn’t. So I started brainstorming. Eventually I came up with an idea and wrote a first draft. A very ugly first draft. I let it sit a while, then revised it. Something was wrong but I couldn’t figure out what. So I sent it to Beth to critique. She helped me identify what (at least a few) of the problems were and I started revising again.

The deadline for submissions was getting closer and closer, and my progress on the revisions was getting slower and slower.

Usually when a story fights me as much as that one was I take it as a sign I need to let it rest a while longer and come back to it with a fresh mindset, but I couldn’t do that, I had a deadline!

To cut a long story into a shorter one, three days before the deadline I decided to let the story I’d been working on rest and to write something new for the anthology. Something that would fight me less. Something short.

While taking a walk with Jo I was sorting through ideas, trying to come up with something that would be a good story, and short enough I could get it done in just a few days. He asked what I was thinking so hard about and we started talking. We brainstormed ideas back and forth until we settled on a concept and plot I thought would really work. There was just one problem. Jo had contributed just as much as I had to the idea’s development. It would feel wrong if I took all the credit for it.

So I suggested that we write it together and share a byline.

And then the magic happened.Jo - Photograph by Rhonda Parrish

In less than a day and a half we went from rough concept and story idea, to a polished short story that I’m super proud of. I’m a fairly good writer, and Jo is an awesome one (You can read his short story The Sickening Thud at the End of it All by clicking that pretty link right there. Go ahead. I’ll wait. You won’t be sorry) but when we worked together we created a story that is, I think, better than anything either of us could have written on our own.

Working with Jo brought out the best in me. I wanted to make each word perfect and wonderful because I wanted to show off for him. And the parts of the storytelling where I’m the weakest? Well, those are areas he’s strong in so he was able to carry me a little. And, I’d like to think, the opposite is true as well. We complement one another well, in writing as in life. How awesome is that?

The story, sadly, though fantastic (even if I do say so myself), earned us a (very awesome, personal) rejection letter from editors and , but I’ve since sent it off elsewhere and I’m optimistic it will find a good home in time.

In the meantime, Jo and I are planning on working with one another more in the future and I am using what I learned working on that story to make all my future solo work better. And someday I’ll even go back to the original superhero story I’d been working on and figure out what’s wrong with it and how to fix it.

Have you ever worked in a collaboration like this and had lightning strike, or magic happen? I’ve done quite a few collabs in the past (I love them.) but never anything quite as fulfilling as this one. I’m curious to see how rare it is in other people’s experiences.

I’ve also had some disasterous collaborations LOL but that’s a subject for another day, eh?

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8 thoughts on “And then the magic happened…

  1. Sounds great, Rhonda. I’ve done a collaboration or two, and found them productive and enjoyable. But not, I’d say, to the extent of magic happening! Definitely sounds like a collaboration you should continue with …

    • I definitely think it’s something we’ll do again, and hopefully it will help improve my solo work too 🙂

  2. That’s awesome, Rhonda! I know your story will find its home. Keep us posted!

    Isn’t it wonderful to have someone to collaborate with? My Gordon and I spent an entire road trip from Long Island to Western NY verbally outlining my (neverending) WIP. He’s contributed not only creative ideas, but has been my “touchstone” beta reader. He’ll call me on the carpet if I write something that doesn’t fit with the rest of the story.

    It’s good to have that kind of support at home, isn’t it?

    Happy Friday!

    • If I didn’t have such a supportive husband I would be totally SOL. Seriously. Not only does he support our family financially but he’s a huge source of emotional support too. I’m ridiculously lucky and I know it.

      It’s awesome to hear that I’m not the only person that lucky though 😉

    • Collaborations can sure be a source of frustration so I understand why some people stay away from them. This one, though, was pretty much perfect.

      Hope I didn’t just jinx us 😉

  3. I think it’s magical when you can find writing synergy with someone else. I love to brainstorm with my crit partners, but I have yet to collaborate.

    • Some of the collaborations I’ve done have been, um, less than ideal LoL but I’m glad this one with Jo did not fit into that category 🙂

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