This has been a really exciting project to get into. I know that I’ve briefly mentioned the Collaborative Writing Challenge on my website and Facebook page, but I’d like to go into a little more detail here, and why I’m having so much fun with it.
I couple months ago, I randomly stumbled upon the website that is CWC. I am always looking for new opportunities to work with other writers, and the idea of writing an entire novel with 20-30 other international writers…one chapter at a time and one author to a chapter…really intrigued me. So I reached out (I learned very quickly over the last year that the simple act of reaching out, of sending an email and being honest with my interest, can open up a million doors that I never even knew existed). About a week later, I was contacted by Laura Callender, the Founder and Owner of CWC. She thanked me for my email and explained that they currently had no openings for writers in either of their two ongoing projects. She did, however, tell me that she was in need of a Story Coordinator for their third collaborative project that would be in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre.
Any position involved with a Sci-Fi/Fantasy endeavor, no matter what it entails, pulls at these very sensitive heartstrings of mine. I said I was willing and able to participate in any capacity, and Laura ran with it. The more I got to know CWC, to navigate the ins and outs and understand how things worked, I was flabbergasted. The website, complete with author bios, testimonials, and sneak peaks of chapters and projects, gave me the impression that CWC had been up and running for at least a couple years. I was surprised and more than just a little impressed to learn that Project #1, The Concierge, was still in its last stages when I found the project.
(I will say, right here and now, that The Concierge will be published very, very soon. More updates on that will appear here once I have all the details. Needless to say, it is a fantastic suspense drama written by 19 incredibly talented authors.)
The most amazing thing was that, as Founder, Owner, and Story Coordinator for The Concierge, Laura had also trained another Story Coordinator for the Second Project, Ambition, been editing and helping that project, written schedules and checked up on all writers, and had the time to introduce me to the setup and train me on the flow of things. And everything was still so professional, so organized and timely, that I balked at this woman’s courage, dedication, and sheer love of what she had created.
It wasn’t very long before she officially offered me the position of Story Coordinator for Project #3, and there was nothing in this world that was going to stop me from accepting it. Not even a 3,000 mile move with my husband, our two cars, and our two dogs across the country. Not unpacking all of our things, cleaning a new house, trying to figure out where we are in this new and amazing town. Not even suddenly realizing that I had a lot of work to do on my own small business, without even having internet yet in our house to do so. But the weeks of communication with Laura through first emails, then Facebook, and then officially the casual and entertaining text, we got a lot done. I was able to use my professional editing skills to help her sift through the final stages of The Concierge. She was able to help me get the first stages of Project #3 up and running. We’ve never met each other, but our conversations about CWC, our own small businesses, navigating the world of social media and networking as self-employed professional women, and basic life in general, have brought us to a place where there’s no line to be crossed when I can call her a new and incredibly valuable friend. I think Laura would probably say the same thing.
Besides the (perhaps too) sentimental recounting of my exciting ways to form new connections, I started this post to talk about how excited I am now that this week has finally come to an end. I spent a few hours every day last week sifting through eleven “chapters” in the Sci-Fi Fantasy genre, all submitted by CWC’s writers as potential “starters” for this project.
I had to pick just five.
It took a phenomenal mind shift from reader/author to Story Coordinator as I chose these five chapters. Not only was I looking for good writing and a good story, but I had to find five that offered both a style and character that fit the genre, and an endless possibility for the story to take a life of its own. When so many different people are writing it together, the story must not already have a destiny. So I chose my five, edited them, and cut them down into 500 word summaries to post on the website and give back to the authors. Again, the story belongs to them. Today was the day that I officially opened up the voting for our Project #3. Every author of CWC gets to submit a vote on one of the five chapters selected. Of course, we ask the authors whose chapter was posted not to vote for themselves, but other than that, it’s all fair game.
Once the writers have submitted their votes, which are due by Friday of next week, we have our chapter! And our story! And then begins the journey that is CWC writing.
The schedule has been set; every author is scheduled at least two weeks out of the next six months where they have five days to write the next chapter in the book at that point in time. Every week two or three authors will submit their chapter, and my job is to choose which one we will use in the novel. Then I must edit, confirm, let everyone know, write a summary, and pick out highlights of the chapter. This is necessary because, in addition to everybody writing a different point in the story, the author for each week only gets to read the entirety of the one chapter previous to theirs, and must rely on summaries and highlights from all the chapters before. So nobody but myself has the opportunity to read the entire book before it’s published. When was anything ever so fun? The consistency, voice, and flow of so many different writers becomes something I get to guide and nurture from week to week, chapter to chapter.
I am heartened and incredibly impressed with the response of the CWC writers to my joining the team. I came in at the end of The Concierge and halfway through Ambition, just when these writers had a thing going on with their schedules and Coordinators. Everyone has given me warm welcomes, been unfailingly gracious in their comments on their own and others’ work (including edits and changes I’ve made to their first chapter submissions), and have even helped promote my website and various writer’s pages. I couldn’t be happier working on any other project, and already I have received four emails just today with submitted votes for our Sci-Fi project!
It is a little strange, now that the voting is open. All the busy, engaging, time-consuming work I’ve put into getting this project started has now suddenly come to an end. Briefly. This week is for the writers to send in votes, and I don’t have much else to do as far as the project is concerned. That’s not going to last very long, I can tell you that right now!
Check back next week to find out what chapter got voted into Project #3, and just where this monster is headed…