One of the things that makes me so much fun is that I’m a barrel of contradictions. I’m wild and crazy in a totally conservative way. I’m a young-at-heart grumpy old man. I’m a crazily optimistic pessimist – or possibly a crazily pessimistic optimist.
Today I’m going to delve a bit deeper into another of those contradictions.
I reckon I’m a highly collaborative person.
One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is that I get to work with lots of other creative people. I work with graphic designers. I work with video producers. I work with skilled IT professionals.
It’s great to collaborate with these people. It’s great to see the sharing of expertise, and how multiple minds can take what seemed like an ok idea and make it something that is out of this world. And feeling like you’re part of a high-functioning, well-oiled team is one of the most wonderful things in the world.
And when I’m not working, my other favourite thing to do is also highly collaborative. When you write, by necessity you need to deal with other people. There are the readers who help you to get your plot and ideas working, as well as the editors who make sure everything comes together and your words have a chance to shine. I would hazard to say that if you’re no good at collaboration, you’re probably not going to make it as a writer.
Which is all kind of funny, because truth be told, I’m a terrible control freak.
I hate other people telling me what to do. I hate other people taking my ideas and changing them in any way. Whenever I find myself forced to work with other people, it’s either my way or the highway. And as a writer, one of the things I absolutely dread is that someone makes a movie out of one of my stories and messes it up completely.
So that’s pretty weird, isn’t it? How am I supposed to reconcile my love of collaboration with my need to be in total control?
Maybe it’s all about degrees. Maybe I’m happy to collaborate, but only when there are strict limits on the inputs of the other people I’m working with. Maybe as long as I’m nominally in charge and get to have the final say, I can tolerate giving my colleagues just that little bit of space. Maybe it’s just a random thing, and sometimes I can do it and sometimes I can’t, depending on my mood, and whether I ate a decent breakfast.
Or maybe there’s no explanation at all. Maybe it’s just another one of those wonderful contradictions that makes me me.
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