To collaborate is the action of working with one or more persons to create something worthwhile. And I certainly think this is what Innes Richens and I have achieved with ‘Small Allowances’. Our joint effort has, I am excited to think, brought together our short, short stories in harmony with each other. My often tongue in cheek stories sit side by side with Innes’ vivid observations of the natural world and people.
This is something I’d never considered doing – writing being solitary work on the whole. Creating a story, inventing plot and characters, making them believable and interesting, is a lonely task. A fragile task, especially at the beginning. It is natural to become possessive, fearing to let your new prodigy encounter the possibility of rejection.
Yes, I’ve known the value of having my work critiqued from when I first began to write seriously; I’ve been fortunate enough to belong to a group of writers with whom I regularly meet. Feedback is essential even if, at times, bruising. Trusting their judgement, a willingness to accept or, at least consider. their opinions vital. Putting my work out in the public sphere I’ve always struggled with, suffering, like most writers, from the imposter syndrome.
This was different though. I was surprised that someone wished to put their work ‘out there’ alongside mine. Innes and I came together as writers after knowing each other for several years as friends, friends who discussed other writers/books, what we’d enjoyed and valued. Innes regularly bought the Man Booker shortlist to read before the final judgement. We were keen to see if we could predict the winner and whether we thought it a fair selection. Our tastes aren’t necessarily the same but the pleasure of deliberating serious fun.
Innes was eager to get back to writing as he’d previously worked on several writing courses before his day job became all-consuming. To meet on Saturday mornings about once a month to talk about many issues, particularly writing, bouncing ideas off one another, has been and continues to be enormously helpful and gratifying. Until recently I felt I was getting the better deal. Recently, however, Innes has created that ‘good habit’ and is producing many stories as you’ll read in ‘Small Allowances’, fine writing. See my blog http://www.valeriebird.eu/good-habits-to-help-you-write/
Therefore when he proposed this idea of a joint anthology, I was flattered and had no hesitation in saying ‘yes, please’. I admire his writing, as I’m sure you will, and trust that our collaboration works well. Different but with the same aims – to entertain and provoke our reader’s imagination.
Also, I must say a big thank you to Innes for doing all the technical work, compiling and putting it out there for everyone to enjoy.