Writing is a solitary pursuit.
When I work, I mutter, fidget, and contort my face while fishing for the right word or shaking a name from the folds of my grey matter. When I’m bogged down on a paragraph or project, I might stare out the window or leap from my chair to brew tea, the mental break unclogging ideas so that words flow freely.
Nobody should be subjected to my myriad idiosyncrasies. Nobody outside the family, that is.
Well, last week my friend Charity proposed we write together.
What an idea: to write together. We didn’t intend to collaborate on a project, at least not anytime soon, so the phrase seemed like an oxymoron. How can such a solitary pursuit benefit from the presence of others? Would we distract each other or spur one another on? And, most pressing, could I curb my quirky fidgeting?
Charity didn’t know how it would work, either; this would be an experiment. Maybe we would write without talking, or maybe we’d break periodically to share our progress and read a short excerpt to one another before returning to the keyboard.
We had lunch first. That was wise. We needed to catch up before we could ever fall silent.
After a couple of hours of conversation (and an amazing slice of chocolate cake), we slipped into a local coffee shop offering free wi-fi, pulled out our laptops, and set to work. As it turned out, I didn’t produce any substantial writing; I did some research, however, that allowed me to quickly churn something out later that evening when I was back at home. Though I felt unproductive during our writing time, I thought, This could work.
The more we write together, the more we may discover ways to inspire and encourage each other (and the more I may learn to limit restless finger-snapping and mumbling).
Last night I decided to see if very many writers try writing together. I wondered if others wrote regularly—once a week, say, or once a month. To hunt down testimonials, I typed various combinations of phrases like “writing partners” and “write together” into a search engine. The search turned up a video called “How to Write ‘Together’ in Chinese.”
On a lark, I clicked on it and watched the instructor pronounce the word in Chinese, and then explain that it means “and” or “together” or “peace.”She drew something that looked like this, which I copied into my new blank book.
I started to imagine how these Chinese characters related to our learning to write together:
Charity and Ann, friends and writers.
Charity and Ann together, writing.
As for peace?
Well, I suppose this could seem silly to anyone who knows Chinese, but when I look at those characters in the context of writing together, I see a computer in the box. And on the other side of the computer, opposite the people working together, I see Jesus in the cross and the Trinity in the triangle. Seems like a powerful combination that could lead to…well, peace.
I didn’t expect this visual when I went out in search of how to “write together”; in fact, I only clicked on the video for fun. But it seems to bring in all the essentials.
Charity and I are meeting again. We’ll see how it goes as we research, write, brainstorm, share our work, eat and laugh. As we set up our laptops at Panera or Starbucks to write together, we can quietly thank God for His presence and ask for inspiration.
And maybe, as I corral my quirks, we’ll not only produce inspired prose, but also radiate peace.