Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Tao of Collaboration

Tuesday, I promised to tell you why I love collaborating with my husband Rob.

Rob and I are truly soul mates. We just seemed to naturally mesh, both in ideals and ideas. So it's kind of surprising that our actual thinking styles are so different.

Rob has the most amazing mind of anyone I've ever known. He's not only got a terrific memory for detail, but he can see how those details--whether the technical aspects of a satellite, the myriad regulations in a military procedure, or the fine points of an complex task--all fit into the big picture. (Remember those logic puzzles that used to be an extra section on the SAT? He maxed the score, and he just did them "for fun.") This has served him extremely well, not only in his military career, but in our writing.

When we go on our dates, we pick around at ideas until we find one we like. For me, that means something I can envision a character for. For Rob, the situation usually grabs him. Then we take off:
Me: What if Sister SpaceCadet did this?
Rob: Can't happen, because of this. But she could do that.
Me: Bit if she did that, she's going to feel like this, so maybe then...

Once we have the story hammered out, it's on my shoulders to write the draft. Then Rob gives it the logic check. Like a precision instrument, he'll hone in on any trouble, from the misapplication of orbital mechanics to the illogic of someone's actions to a misplaced plot complication. He'll also catch my writing flaws, from misspellings to my penchant for front-loading information. Sometimes, that means major re-writes (like in our novel-in-progress, Discovery.) Other times, it leads to exciting new plot complications.

Collaborating on an anthology is a little different, but we still benefit from his brilliance. I tended to judge a story on character and writing style first, and then he evaluated the more technical aspects. When we almost liked a story, he would find on the spots that needed improving. And he was always there to keep me focused on the big picture--like when someone I'd rejected wrote me back that I "didn't understand" his story. Rob reminded me that it wasn't my job to understand him; it was his job to be understood.

Oh, and let's not forget that his style of thinking makes it easier for him to understand and work with computers. He's become very familiar with hearing, "Babe, how do you...?"

Some folks think I'm odd, but I believe the most attractive feature about my husband is his mind. But when writing is your vocation, avocation, and day-to-day pursuit, a good man with a great mind is the very best kind of man to have.

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