Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Make Your Life Matter

If you've ever attempted to co-author a book or a magazine article with another person, you will quickly learn that it's not easy. I've had many author friends who tell me they tried it once--and never again. I can see their point. When I write something without a co-author, I don't have to try and capture their words or thoughts or voice or stories. It is less complex and the only push back comes when I challenge myself to be the best possible writer or communicator.

When you co-author or ghost write for another person, you come alongside as the writer to capture the other person's intent. Why do you write for other people? In the October 20th issue of Publishers Weekly Soapbox column I discovered an eloquent answer that resonated with my own experience.

Courtney E. Martin tells about co-authoring a memoir of AIDS activist Marvelyn S. Brown. I loved this sentence in the second paragraph: "She decided to make her life matter."

Next Martin confirms the complexity of such a task: "I have known, since I first sat in the green glow of my family's gargantuan IBM PC in the mid '80s, that writing would be the way I would make my life matter. I just had no idea how complex my chosen method would turn out to be."

As I have written books and articles for other people, I identified with the weight of her task as Martin said, "I was apprehensive at the profound responsibility of having someone else's story in my hands."

While I've felt the weight of the co-author experience, I've also experienced great joy and satisfaction in the process. Firsthand, I know that my co-author would probably never have managed to get their story on paper or through the maze of proposal creation, then getting their book into the hands of the right editor and negotiating a book contract--much less crafting a page-turning manuscript.

While many writers prefer to write their own books and their own stories, I've chosen a different path with at least a portion of my own writing. It's one of the ways I make my life matter and I hope you too will consider for your own writing.

The experience may surprise you. No, it will surprise you because there are always surprises in the publishing process. It will stretch your relationship ability to the limit but you will also experience incredible reward (and not just financial) in the journey.

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6 Comment:

At 8:36 AM, Blogger Lea Left a note...

Nice insight to another writer's thoughts. Really enjoyed it.

At 8:41 AM, Blogger Avily Jerome Left a note...

Thanks for those thoughts! That's a great reminder to do whatever you do wholeheartedly.

At 8:50 AM, Blogger Philangelus Left a note...

Thanks for posting this!

The reason I wrote my daughter's story and the Carrying To Term website (http://www.geocities.com/tabris02) was to make my daughter's life matter. Writing her story and reaching out to other parents in the same situation was a way of giving a voice to someone who would otherwise have been voiceless.

I have hundreds of emails now from parents and friends of bereaved parents who have written to tell me how much Emily's life helped them, and it's wonderful to know that my daughter's life does matter.

At 9:06 AM, Blogger Janel Left a note...

Excellent insight. Thanks.

At 8:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous Left a note...

Once again, Terry, your encouraging posts are right on time. Was approached this past week about co-authoring a book and I'm feeling simultaneously terrified and called. Your entry and the linked article were exactly what I needed. Straight talk on the challenges, and confirmation on the intent. You did it again. Thanks.

At 10:38 AM, Blogger Courtney Left a note...

Thanks for keeping the conversation going Terry. It's nice to know that my words resonate with other writers.


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