Partnership


Feedback is starting to roll in, and so is praise. But let me make something perfectly clear. This is not my work. I’m not some pampered princess writing in a Parisian salon, perfect golden phrases flowing from a hand-sharpened quill. I’m a sweaty, nervous hack, but I’m not writing alone.

Oliver doesn’t just fetch me fresh coffee when the old cup’s gone cold, or pat me on the back when I hit a new word count goal. He shapes every part of the process.

Imagine I stand before you with a handful of flour, and a handful of yeast.

Oliver says to me, “Oh, you’re making bread.”

I say, “What the hell is bread?”

He explains to me what bread is, shows me how to bind all of the parts together. He finesses the recipe, adding salt, adding spice, changing the composition entirely when my clumsiness provides results that won’t yield.  He provides the pan that will determine its shape. He provides the oven that will bake it.

When I pull it out of the oven, you wouldn’t say, “Dani made this bread.” No, I showed up, I had some ingredients, but no real idea of what I was doing or why I was doing it. You would say “Oliver and Dani made some bread.”

I wrote for a long time before I met Oliver. I wrote a lot of opening scenes, a lot of abortive attempts at mediocrity. I wrote a lot of noodling, wandering, plot-less passages. I probably wrote no more than 50,000 words in a decade, and nothing that ever finished, ended or went anywhere.

I stood there with a pencil, and some paper.

Oliver said, “Oh, you’re writing a story.”

I said “What the hell is story?”

He took me by the hand and turned me into what I always wanted to be, a writer. Without our partnership, I’d still be a cruddy little hack with big dreams and no drive. I wouldn’t have the guts to chase my dreams, and I wouldn’t have the first idea of what to write to get there.

Writing with Oliver is like dancing with Gene Kelly. You’re better just for being in his presence. He can take a little sketch, the merest fragment of an idea, and whip it into a complex, beautiful plot in no time. He turns my ragged, messy word-vomit into something fantastic, something magical. I could not do it without him. I wouldn’t do it without him. He makes the process of writing meaningful. He makes what I write meaningful. He is in every sentence, every paragraph.

You wouldn’t say “Dani wrote a story.” No, I showed up, I had some scenes, but no real idea of what I was doing or why I was doing it. Without my partner, I was scribbling in the dark. You would say “Oliver and Dani wrote a story, and it’s great.”

Thank you, Oliver. Our story is great. You should be proud.

3 comments

  1. Reading through this blog, do my eyes deceive me and I’ve stumbled on another pair of co-authors in the fantasy genre?

    If so, hi I’m so happy I’m not alone and it’s great to meet you! Our blog, The Athele Series, seems to be similarly geared! This post really rang true with me, because while Michael and I were writers in our own right before we met, it was only when we got together that the books we’d been looking to write started to come together.

    1. Yes, that’s absolutely the case. I have a hard time explaining it to people. I’m glad we aren’t alone. People like to think that I do all of the work, because I spent most of my life wanting to be an author. But Oliver adores story in a way I’ve never seen. He loves it in all forms, all media. And he’s critical, my god. He’s so critical. What he understands about story is what makes my dream possible. He knows what works, he knows what doesn’t. He can craft a twist like nobody’s business. They’re the stories I always wanted to write. That’s the key. For the first time in my life, I’m writing the stories I feel like I was meant to write. And it’s just getting better.

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