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If The Path of Least Resistance Is All You Ever Take

November 27, 2011

This one isn’t as much fun, I’m afraid.

I’ve been thinking about how complicated things get when I try involving other people in my projects. On one hand, it’s nice to have help with the heavy lifting, but really, I’ve never had the luck of falling into the perfect collaboration. All collaborations, as far as I know, are like relationships, in that they require sacrifice and compromise, and there are just times when that’s not what gets the apples to market.

I used to be a pretty lonely kid. I’m sure I have that in common with a lot of writers. Seems to be a bit of a prerequisite for the job. But even I need social interaction at times, and I find that the sort of interaction that pleases me most is collaboration. And yet, the price is high, particularly when I’m convinced my ideas work, and my collaborators aren’t. I’m willing to make room and change horses when required to appease collaborators, but what I often find is that either I’m running too fast for them, or they’re running in the opposite direction from me. Rarely have I had a situation where my ideas were agreed upon as the template for the project, and never have I had a collaboration where all of my ideas were preserved, even if I left plenty of space for other ideas elsewhere.

That said, I’m not entirely blameless in this. I don’t always frame projects clearly enough that my collaborators can clearly see where they might be able to make a solid-but-personally-rewarding contribution. I haven’t mastered the ability to make other people’s ideas sound like they’d work alongside mine without any unwanted friction. It’s always ‘well, that might be tricky, but I think we can work something out’, which to my mind sounds wonderfully conciliatory, but to most others sounds like ‘you can’t do that!’, or so it seems.

I think perhaps I’m just not a very good taskmaster, and perhaps as well, I have failed to be a good enough friend to my colleagues to engender the kind of loyalty or work ethic that gets things done. I started talking about a project recently and started enlisting friends to help, but one of the key figures in my plan was very polite but brusk with me, and we haven’t spoken since then, which leads me to believe they didn’t really want to be involved, and were a bit put off that I’d dared to ask.

See, I have this one person I consider to be not only a true colleague but a close friend, and yet it’s becoming apparent to me that perhaps I have misjudged that friendship; that in fact my friend can’t bear to speak to me with anything other than impatience and sufferance. It saddens me because I have so few colleagues I genuinely care for, but I don’t really feel I can blame my friend, either. When you get down to it, I’ve probably made more than a handful of qualitative assertions that have unintentionally hurt my friend, based on our very different priorities with our writing. I’ve been a bit intense and single-minded about the purpose of writing, and on the whole, my friend is happier sharing with friends and enjoying having a built-in fandom that doesn’t involve too many unknown factors. Frankly, I’m not entirely certain which one of us has the better plan. Nevertheless, I haven’t had a real conversation with my friend in many moons, and it just dawned on me today that I may have lost my friend.

I’ve been a bit cryptic in this post. I apologise for that, particularly because I’m disinclined to explain further. I’m not trying to drive you crazy. Just clearing my thoughts so I can work today.

And before you ask, if you are a friend or loved one I’ve collaborated with before and you read this blog with any regularity, chances are excellent that I’m not talking about you. I don’t mean that to sound like ‘No, dear, of course I don’t mean you’, but really, No, Dear, of course I don’t mean you. Silly.

Eddie.

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