Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Co-Authoring: What is Your Strong Suit?

When Mimi Wilson and I began writing together, we each had three young children. Mimi was extremely creative, and had rich experiences from having grown up in Africa. She was a gifted communicator through the spoken word, but she was dyslexic, and my role was to record and “word-smith” her ideas.

When we self-published the original edition of Once-A-Month Cooking in 1982 (titled Freeze and Save – her husband called it Thaw and Chaw), Mimi had devised this cooking method to save time in the kitchen, save money, and be prepared at all times to extend hospitality.

She called me one day in 1981, and told me that she had just prepared 30 dinner entrees one after another for her freezer. Would I like to see if the Denver Post wanted us to write an article on how to do it, she asked.

“Why don’t you call the Denver Post,” I said. Mimi has marketing savvy – and more guts than I do. She called them, and they sent a photographer and a reporter to her home within the week to do a food feature. A year later, when the Rocky Mountain News expressed interest in an article, we wrote up the cooking method in book form – Freeze and Save – to offer for sale.

This started an adventure that has taken us through the production of a demonstration video, a CD-ROM version, and numerous updated editions for Christian publishers and a secular publisher. We’ve experienced “way down” as well as “way up, ” moments, and perhaps the greatest benefit of our partnership has been the ability to share it all. No one quite understands like your writing partner.

But at one point I began to feel second-rate, unimportant. Mimi was the primary speaker, the “up front” partner, and sometimes, even in front of me, people referred to it as “Mimi’s book.”

One day I was in the bedroom ironing when the Lord spoke to me. Not audibly, but it is one of the few times in my life when I can say He did with certainty. He said, as I ironed, “If she is Moses and you are Aaron, what is that to you?”

This may sound obtuse to you, but it made perfect sense to me. We each had individual roles that coincided with our giftings from God. Why should I covet her gift – or her exposure? Was I not thankful, and did I not enjoy, the job God had given to me?

From my long-time partnership with Mimi that is precious to me, and also from the experience of managing a book brand for MOPS International (Mothers of Preschoolers), I have learned that although writing and speaking usually go hand-in-hand, most communicators are either a writer who also speaks or a speaker who also writes. In Mimi’s and my partnership, although we both do both, she is definitely the speaker who writes, and I the writer who speaks.

Which are you? Determining this, and giving more weight to your “strong suit” can be freeing and enable you to soar as God has intended for you. It has been a great strength of our collaboration that Mimi and I are differently gifted and don’t “step on one another’s toes.” Are you a writer who speaks, or a speaker who writes?

1 comment:

Jamie Jo said...

Great post. Personally I think I would LOVE to co-author a book just as I prefer playing duets to solos. It makes it more of a social and creative outlet.

I have y'all's book (how do you punctuate that word?) for years! Nice teamwork and good lessons shared today. Thanks!


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