Roles and Lessons

David invited me to the university to speak to his scriptwriting class about collaboration. We talked about how we started and the journey we took from then to where we are today. When David and I first realized that we clicked creatively, I was directing a high school theater production. I asked him to come in as a fresh pair of eyes. He put on a button down shirt and dress pants. He had a clip board and took notes through the entire rehearsal. He looked official. He took the whole thing very seriously, which I appreciated. I think the cast and crew found his visit a little intimidating to be honest. I also appreciated that.

At the end of it all he had everyone gather while he went through his notes. They listened to this official looking critic attentively. His suggestions were excellent. In fact, that first visit went so well that he kindly continued attending the rehearsals and stayed right through to performance week. Afterwards, he would help me with the many other productions during my time at that school. Knowing Dave, I realize it was a place to put his creativity. I also know that he is a much happier human when he is creating and surrounded by endeavors that connect to story in some way.

A few years later, he approached me to write with him. I happily accepted as I knew that our work-horse mentality, our commitment to creativity, our faith in the process, and our ability to have fun while we worked made me think this writing gig would be a really good idea.

We powered through several scripts. Each one was a labor of love and each one was very different from the other. We built a very efficient, streamlined, and thorough process for our product. We also expanded our writing palette in a variety of genres. We wanted an interesting portfolio and not limit ourselves, and I have to say, mission accomplished! Script writing ended with the tax credit for the film industry ended in our province. Enter stage right NOVELS.

As I sat in Dave’s class, waiting for the students to filter in, I smiled at the idea that when we first connected in this realm I was the teacher and he was the speaker. Now the roles were reversed—he was running the show and I was just there to add to the lesson in some way.

I was nervous. Not like armpit sweating nervous but like a little shifty in my seat, a little fluttery and here’s why: Dave and I were officially talking about working as a team-to real people. We were out of the collaboration closet. We were going to be openly discussing the advantages (there are very few disadvantages) of working together. Our scriptography (David doubts this is a word but it’s my blog so I guess I can make up words occasionally.) was going to appear on a projector screen. People in the infant stages of the career were going to ask us questions like we were the more experienced ones.

Verbalizing this makes it real.

We were, for the first time ever, discussing what happens behind closed doors when we worked. We were telling an audience and the door was wide open. Yet, it legitimized what we do by saying it out loud.


And you know what? I loved it. I am a teacher by trade so once the class started things felt natural but with the added buzz of sharing something I created—something that I love and believe in. I didn’t feel like a phony. I felt like these years of collaboration taught me things I needed to know and I was ready to pass on some golden nuggets of information.

Since going to David’s class we have been on many panels for discussion, had interviews, presentations, online events etc. And all of them want to know what it’s like to write with a partner, particularly authors. That, my friends, is a story for another time.

Hope you enjoyed my meandering thoughts.

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