My Unrequited Love of Collaboration

That is not the Clone we are looking for [Boin...
That is not the Clone we are looking for (Photo credit: Kalexanderson)
Ah, Collaboration – The dream team working together towards a common goal.  Minds meld and a beautiful ‘something’ is created. A ‘thing’ that is better than anything the collaborators could have achieved on their own.

The reality is that the word ‘together’ is a lie. As is the word ‘common.’ And the ‘goal’ is never quite defined to anyone’s satisfaction.

I crave collaboration, but I can’t find anyone to collaborate with me. I want someone with my exact priorities. Someone I can respect and admire.  Someone to believe in me and encourage me.  Someone who is willing to work hard on things I think are worth working hard on.   Maybe I need a clone. A clone that is less lazy. A clone that will do the parts I don’t want to do. Or the parts that I think I suck at.  So not a clone – an equal-opposite.  A mirror image.

When my boyfriend and I were still ‘just friends’ we wrote the first three chapters of a novel together.  That book will never be finished.  Turns out we are not good collaborators.  I am constantly disappointed by that fact.

I want to blame him. If only he would take it as seriously as I do.  If only he had the same passion / enthusiasm / dedication as I do.  If only he would be more like me.  Again, the clone thing.

Does collaboration ever actually work? When we worked on those chapters, there was strong desire to please each other.  We were in love but unable to express those feelings, so we wrote love letters to each other in the form of chapters of a book.  One time, after we’d exchanged a few emails about the ‘disaster’ that starts the story, he stayed up all night and wrote a 7000 word prologue. I found it in my email the next morning and cried in relief at finally finding a true collaborator.  But it was all a lie.

He we are, years later, living together and still in love, but no collaboration is happening.  I write and he reads what I write, but the love is now expressed in affectionate caresses. He doesn’t need to write thousands of words to tell me he loves me, he just has to cross the room and kiss me.

The common goal, as it turned out, was not writing a book together.  The common goal was to get into each others pants.  Once we achieved that goal , the book became unnecessary.

The book is still a goal.  It just isn’t common.  It is still important to me.  I want to finish it.  I want him to want to finish it. (He isn’t interested and I’m too lazy to do all the work needed to encourage him to do his part while doing my own.)

Collaboration requires a well-defined goal, and an equal desire to accomplish that goal.  Is that possible? Can two people really have the same goal and maintain the same level of enthusiasm for all the time needed to achieve said goal?  Isn’t history littered with the detritus of failed collaboration? (Lennon/McCartney, Jobs/Wozniak,  Jefferson/Adams)  Together these collaborators made beautiful things, but eventually they split. If only they had worked together just a little bit longer…

What happened?  People change. Priorities shift. Interests wax and wane. People get into other people’s pants.

Those three chapters haunt me.  They are good. Really good.  Better than anything thing I have written on my own. Those three chapters keep my dream of collaboration alive, despite all this proof of its inherent instability.

Someday I’ll find it, the perfect collaboration.  I just hope that next time there wont be any pants involved and it will last longer than three chapters.  (Um…Is that really the best way to say that?)

9 thoughts on “My Unrequited Love of Collaboration

  1. My fiancé wants to collaborate with me on two novels. I’m not sure how that will fly over because we have such different writing styles, and I prefer bittersweet/sad endings to happy ones, and he’s the opposite. However, I won’t know how it’ll be like without trying. Here’s hoping it doesn’t cause too much conflict. xD


  2. It takes a single vision for collaboration to work and even then, it won’t be a smooth ride. That’s how corporations are built. It’s not done solo.


  3. I have had similar experiences with colloborative work – or should I say non-experiences. Most of this occurred in the academic arena. You would see underlings doing the majority of work on a project and then supervisors coming in to take the glory. Seldom did I ever get to work on a project (especially as it pertained to writing) where all parties had the same commitment to the work and the glory. That is why I seldom if ever saw a peer project come to anything. I felt what you are describing – desperate to find a true collaborator. Just never happened and believe me it wasn’t from lack of looking or trying on my part.


    1. Well, we’ll both keep on looking. Hope never dies – or something like that, right? 🙂


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