where the writers are
One More Thing...

In case it doesn't make sense that writing partners - working hard and conscientiously - might turn out a product better than either of their capabilities...all I can say is try it.

To the best of my understanding, this is how it works:


You've considered a piece you want to write, you've put it on the page, and you've edited it - well - many times. You know what you wanted to say and, to the best of your abilities, you've laid it down.

Then you turn it over to your writing partner - with maybe a few concerns, some comments in general regarding what you want to accomplish. Your writing partner reads it, understands it - as if it's brand new - never been seen - just dropped from the clouds. S(he) sees it, then, more holistically, i.e., sees it as a completely formed literary idea - maybe with a few imperfections. S(he) makes a few comments, offers some suggestions, maybe asks for a bit of clarification, then shoots the piece back to you.

(Remember here that the two of you are peers with respect to your development as writers.)

You take the comments in hand, consider them. The nature of drafting  literary ideas (read: story, essay, confession, etc.) is that you began with a germ of this idea - you then developed it according to structure, voice, pacing, etc. - all the technical details you have in your quiver. When your partner saw your draft, the idea was more tangible, more grounded in life, in the human condition, than before you began to write. But your work on it to this point was detail, detail, detail - more like putting a jigsaw puzzle together than having the idea's "big picture" drop from the heavens in its complete form. 

Your partner's ideas, then help round out the big picture of your original idea, i.e., s(he) is helping you smooth its outer shape. But you do more - you're "inspired" by his/her perspective of the piece, and you use those comments to go deeper. You know the paradoxes present in your piece, the quandaries, the way the piece should fit together at different levels of meaning. So you accept some of his/her comments, reject others, in order to embellish the many aspects of depth you see in your work.

So...this collaboration of idea/piece, writer, and partner  - - working together - - create something of a  hologram of the idea. Something you couldn't have done so well alone, and together done better than either of you. 

As you and your partner look back at the piece following this process, you both have a deeper understanding of what is possible to do with an idea, with the techniques of writing. You've grown as writers.


Which brings me, briefly, I promise, to The Sunset Limited, Cormac McCarthy's two-role play done in such fine form by Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson. 

These two are talking in the play about why life is worth living - or not. TLJ comes from a refined, educated viewpoint, SLJ from native insights born of the streets and of prison. Their perspectives on life are so completely opposite - so opposite, in fact, that neither sees that both have the same deep understanding of life.

Dialogue, communication, grasping for an ever-enhanced perspective of the human condition - - these are the keys to reaching beyond oneself, whether in writing or in real life.