The Other Side.

Hi. Jill’s husband here.  Jill asked that I do a post for her on her birthday!  So I’ve sent her to bed and am writing this in her stead. I think this will be useful but first you have to step into my world for just a second.

I love games. In particular, I voraciously play a certain card game that involves two players, each with a deck of cards. Many people become attached to their deck, and see it as an extension of their persona. It has been carefully crafted.  It is their tool for defeating opponents. It contains rare cards that they own. In short, people want to play with their deck. So it came as a surprise to my opponent at a tournament yesterday when I asked if we could switch decks (during a non tournament game).

The reason I do this is to lean how my deck operates from the opponent’s perspective. Some cards may not seem powerful, but when played against you are quite brutal and visa versa. This made me realize that I was a good person to talk about living with a writer and focus on the other side.


actually i just needed an embaressing picture

Being stranded on a park bench in a flooded lake may hinder writing time…

Living with a writer is an interesting study in the use of time. There is never enough to go around. I take way more time in our relationship, and with more immediate specter of income, we both agree that my career time constraints have priority over Jill’s. I thought that her time writing could be truly flexible, but it has come to my attention that she is more productive at certain times of the day or has a routine that she prefers to work within. I don’t always realize when I’ve disrupted that routine.

Alpha/Beta Reading

Usually I have the role of reading material as it is generated. Or at the very least ideas are reviewed off me. In many instances I am just awed at what Jill can produce. I am not a writer nor do I enjoy the process, but I have read quite a bit. To quote that one guy: “I may not know much about [writing], but I know what I like.” My comments are often like that. I may have a minor complain about a character or how the story is laid out, or I may just express my love of how similar situations were treated in my favorite books. Jill is the one who has to mold that whimsical desire into her storyline in a literarily appropriate manner. In a similar vein, some of my proudest moments come from giving ideas to her stories that actually come to fruition.

Moral Support

yep, they're cute alright!

Moral support is about all they can do to help…

The biggest influence I think I have on Jill as a writer is as moral support. Full disclosure here: sometimes I think that all this writing stuff is useless unless its getting a paycheck. But then I realize that my schooling and unpaid internships are generating just as much money. And I truly believe in the skills my wife possesses and the material she produces. I think it is amazing and people should pay to read her work. Besides, even if her current novel fails to every publish it is still not a “failure”. It’s a piece of good writing, of value for her, and to all who do read it.  Is a painting useless is if no one buys it? No. Writing is clearly an art, and there is something beautiful and inspiring about the creating of art. There is not a way to really put a price on that.

Other Other Side

I just want to end my note here by reiterating my example of the card game. In the game, there is always a single clear opponent. From what I gather of the writing business there are a number of people who have an important opinion of what a writer does. The spouse is at the bottom of that list in many ways. I think this blog has many examples of how to gain the perspective of the agents, readers, publishers, editors, and reviewers.

I hope we can all get a little more understanding of each other by “switching decks” as often as possible.

Thank you Jill for being so wonderful, and happy birthday!

Collaborates Well with Others

GhostwriterI learned things this week! Yay! A friend and I are collaborating on a novel idea (which will have its glory day in the hot sun next month during Camp NaNoWriMo!). We got waaaay ahead of ourselves and started talking about how rights would be spelled out in any contracts we encountered, running on the assumption that this puppy ever gets published.

So in the spirit of knowledge and adventure, we looked into the different ways this collaboration thing could shake out in a publishing contract. The main terms that we dredged up were collaboration agreements, dual authorship, and ghostwriting. Here’s the quickie version of what they are and how they work.

Collaboration Agreement This is simply a catch-all phrase for, you guessed it, an agreement between two or more people to collaborate on a single project. In order to be legally binding, it should be written down. (Publishers usually require that it be so in order to work with the authors on publication, but it’s still a good idea even if you plan on self-publishing.) The agreement should include things like the ownership each contributor has regarding copyright, writing credits, and his or her portion of any royalties accrued. (Unless stated otherwise, it’s typically an equal division between collaborators.)

Dual Authors (Dueling authors? Pistols at dawn!) Also known as coauthors or as joint authors when there are more than two involved, these are the people who will receive writing credit for the project. You see this most often in nonfiction research articles, where the list of the authors and their credentials is nearly as long as the abstract, but with the internet easing the way for collaboration, it’s cropping up more and more in the rest of the writing world. (Note: not all of the listed authors will necessary do fingers-to-pencil-or-keyboard writing. More expert or ‘senior’ collaborators can often get a pass, especially where large amounts of research are involved.)

Ghostwriter (I cannot be the only person who recalls this cheesy TV show…) The gun-for-hire of the writing world, ghostwriters write projects that are actually credited to another person. This usually comes up when a famous but non-writerly person wants to put out an autobiography, or a famous author wants to put out more books a year than is humanly possible. The ghostwriter does the actual writing, ‘in the style’ of the credited author, and usually takes a fee meted out in chunks as pieces of the project are finished. (A ghostwriter can also negotiate to take a smaller fee in exchange for a portion of royalties.) But the ghostwriter will get no credit when it’s all said and done.

So there you have it! The barest-of-bones breakdown of collaboration. You’ll of course need more information if you’re considering entering into such an agreement. You can scroll around the internet for further details on collaboration and copyright, but I found the following articles particularly helpful:

Check out this much-more-detailed article from publishing and entertainment lawyer Lloyd Jassin

Or this one from KB Law: Copyright

Or you could, you know, bite the bullet and actually talk to a literary agent or a publishing lawyer. Whatever you decide to do, if you’re entering into a collaborative relationship, be sure to take steps to protect yourself and your rights. Negotiate out the details, write them down, and get all involved parties to sign. Then get to the real fun: the project itself! Whee!

PS- Don’t forget! Two weeks until the second session of Camp NaNoWriMo! I hope you’re readying yourself in whatever way you like for the literary craziness! (My way involves outlines, blog posts, and an insane amount of Oreos. Insane.)