Sunday, September 12, 2010

Typing for Two

Gabriella Herkert
Catnapped and Doggone

Writing with someone else. The mere thought makes me break out in hives. If we played well with others, we wouldn’t be writers holed up in dark rooms wearing our pajamas and bed head like badges of honor. Our ideas, well mine anyway, flow from my head to my fingers without a stop for input. Even my critique group doesn’t get a say until after the words are on the page, the plot is chosen and the annoying victim suitable offed. Even thinking about sitting with someone, anyone other than my dog Koko who is smart enough not to offer her views, discussing my book much less producing usable pages with them – well, yikes.

I’ve tried it twice. The co-author thing. My very first attempt was in high school with Robin, my best friend. She’d write a section then hand the notebook (okay, aging myself) to me and I would continue on with the story. We didn’t talk overview beforehand. I just tried to leave her in the trickiest position possible. Mid-sentence or half naked with a knock on the door. We never fought about it and we did write a lot but the final product never arrived. We just kept jousting for the entire academic year.

The second time I tried it was with my friend Ann. We were going to write together. Exchange pages. We decided in her kitchen one night (or was it morning already). It was Ann and me and Ann’s husband Tim who kept saying, “You can do this. You’ll be great.” I always liked him. Ann and I even discussed plot and character and decided on the genre. We never wrote a word together. I’m not even sure why but it just didn’t happen. It doesn’t matter because that night in the kitchen, with my friends so sure it could be done, I became a writer. It took ten years to get to a finished product -- a smart-mouthed mystery instead of the romance I’d started that kept taking on a Tim Burton feel that disturbed my mother. Why was that the moment? Because I had someone to write with even if we didn’t.

Did you know P.J. Parrish is sisters? Are sisters? Grammatical trickiness aside, if I tried to write with one of my siblings it would be a thriller. And incredibly realistic since I’d be able to describe, from personal experience, the murder, the arrest, the trial, the acquittal. My acquittal. Probably shouldn’t go there.

I know I’m not supposed to pick fellow CMers but I’d like to write with Shane. He makes me laugh and I think the giggles would be all over the page. Or Josh who, in addition to having plenty of high fructose writing fuel, is incredibly prolific and writes in a variety of mediums. I could use the kick in the pants and the push outside the box. Since I’m not allowed to pick CMers, I had to actually think about this one.

How to choose? It’s like trying to come up with the compatible dating site criteria. Do you like long walks on the beach or dancing all night? Music or television? Non-smoker? Maybe I should write a personal add for my would-be writing partner. Me, anti-social forensic junkie. Fast on the quip. Slow on the setting. You, fanatical plotter. Grounding is your life and deadlines mean exactly that. Quick to recognize when death is imminent.

So who is my writing Maybe Elizabeth George, especially in her Lynley series. She’s a better plotter than I am and I think I could bring some levity that would make for a pretty great read. Plus I love the idea of two Americans passing themselves off as Brits. We could do conferences and confuse everyone with our perfected Yankee accents. Hugh Laurie will have nothing on us.

Maybe my match should be a little more inventive. Not quite what I asked for but what I want in my heart of heart, the deepest recess of my mind or maybe even somebody my Mom thinks would be good and I'd roll my eyes at. Like someone with a different religion, the togetherness can either be a land war in Asia or an Ellis Island melting pot. The faith that meshes with mine? Screenwriters. First, I am dying to try this. Dialogue is where I live and setting and grounding have never been my thing. With a screen play, I can be all talk all the time. What do you expect? My name is Gabi. Who? Jimmy McGovern of Cracker fame. He writes sizzling, smart dialogue but I might be able to sex it up. (I have a great imagination, Mom). Or James Elmore. I love Justified which is based on one of his short stories. But if we’re going to scribe the modern Western, I say the women need to be as bad ass as the conflicted but irresistible men. Turns out, I am a subject matter expert on that topic. When I get good, at working with someone and at the screenplay, I’d like to work with Andrew Davies of Masterpiece Theater Jane Austen fame. You know you’re good, really, really good, when you can take a book that everyone has read and/or seen a dozen movie adaptations of and make it new, fresh, totally watchable. I think it’s time someone – or two someones – updated Northanger Abbey to compete for the Twilight audience. It’s the original Gothic thriller/romantic triangle. Yeah, I think I could bring myself to play nice for that. Probably. Maybe. Well, okay I could try.

Thanks for reading.



Joshua Corin said...

"Who is my writing" has to got to be the highlight line of the week. I laughed so hard that I nearly had lemonade coming out of my nostrils. Again.

Gabi said...

The highest compliment I could receive. Thanks, Josh.

Kelli Stanley said...

I can hear the Dating Game music even now ... thanks for the hilarious post, Gabs. And the memories of Jim Lange (OK, I was really young, like five or six, but I did watch it, OK?) ;)