I am mulling over a new project that is in a completely different direction to any of my existing work. Not sure if it will happen, but if it does, it will be in collaboration with a very bright, interesting mind that I have recently got to know.
I love this early stage of creation. I am lucky that I have been in a position to work on creative ideas since the late seventies - ideas, good or bad, successful or not, have been my life. Mostly I have worked on my own, which though I love, can be frustrating.
Some years ago I worked with a friend on several writing projects. Although they went nowhere and he decided to take a different path, the experience was brilliant. We would sit up late at night around a big table knocking ideas backwards and forwards (all very low tech then). We would meet in cafés and sit for hours drinking coffee and munching cakes while thinking of new ideas, throwing others out and so on.
I would love if that could happen again. There is something about working with a co-writer or co-creator. It is like a strange love affair where the idea is to stimulate each other's imaginations rather than libido. And it can be incredibly stimulating, even when it is all going badly.
This is not like teamwork in a company where each member has to know their place and know how that fits in with others, something I find painfully boring and restricting. I have worked on enough corporate communication over the years to know that what is dreamed of rarely happens. In reality, one or two in the team will dominate and the team is only successful because other team members quietly take lesser roles. If they do have brilliant ideas, they are lost.
In a writing or creative partnership, that does not work. The chances of success in that world are so slim that you cannot risk losing out on any potentially good ideas. So rather than have a structured team, you have to climb into each other's minds. You have to learn what each other finds funny, what makes you cry, what you love, hate, are scared of. You have to be open with each other and be very prepared to forgive each other when you fall out - that will happen!
If I was to make a visual comparison, company teamwork is like a firm, friendly handshake. Collaboration is like lovers holding hands while walking beneath a stormy sky, lightning included.
I suppose it is not very surprising that many of the best creative partnerships have had personal relationships suffer. I think inevitably, although there may be no sex involved or even contemplated, you can end up being closer to your writing partner than your lover. Not always, of course, and it is a different relationship, however much fun it is to think of it as an affair. Having said that, I had one friend whose wife described his writing partner as "the other woman", even though the other woman was a man!
This project, which I am going to be intentionally vague about, will be particularly interesting, should we get it together. It will be writing for a much younger audience and my writing partner is of that age group and not mine. That will make this both fun and difficult. We will both have a lot to learn from each other.
Of course, at this stage, it is just an idea. I suppose we need to find ourselves a café that will tolerate us and where we are unknown, and then meet up lots and start learning about the idea and about each other. Then, if that is fruitful, we can start the actual work.
Don't get me wrong, I love the hard work of writing, but that first stage, the meetings without agenda where you just try to excite each other, that is the best.
Wish me luck that she agrees, and if she does, wish us both luck.