Nigel Warburton asked David Edmonds and John Eidinow a very important interesting searching profound question, one that always gets my alert curious attention, though I couldn’t quite tell you why.
Nigel: How difficult is it to write collaboratively? Not many people manage to pull it off as well as you do…
Okay, I could tell you why; I was joking when I said I couldn’t. It interests me because I sometimes write collaboratively myself, so I’m always interested in how it goes for other people, how they go about it, whether they enjoy it, and if they have any useful little tips.
Julian also interviewed Edmonds and Eidinow, for TPM, Issue 35. He also asked how they managed it.
The particulars of their working relationship are also interesting, though not perhaps for philosophical reasons. How is it that they have avoided the kind of falling-out that dooms so many writing partnerships?
By plying each other with chocolate and brandy? By sending each other little prezzies – tickets to football matches, cufflinks, T shirts with FCUK on them? By taking time out to hold hands and skip lightly around the flower bed every so often? No…
‘We communicate a lot,’ says Eidinow.
Aha! What a good idea! What a really good, sound, clever idea! Why has no one ever thought of that before?
I’m joking again. You can tell that. I will have my little jokes. I’m joking because this is something I’m always trying to convince my collaborator of – that communicating a lot (or at least some, or a bit, or any) is useful for collaboration purposes, and he is always trying to convince me of the opposite, though his method is the quiet one of not doing anything while mine is the noisy one of doing something. It’s sort of like speech acts. We enact the very thing we’re either talking or not talking about – although my enactment is more of an enactment because his enactment, being non-enactment, could bear other interpretations. I, the proponent of communication, enact that proponent-hood by communicating that communication is useful, whereas he, being either a non-proponent of communication, or a proponent of non-communication (which is it, I wonder) – either enacts or doesn’t enact that non-proponent-hood or that proponent-hood of non-communication, by not communicating. Then after the passage of a few weeks or months I enact some more, only louder, and he either does or doesn’t do the opposite, only minus louder.
I’m only joking, and exaggerating, and messing around. Only I do like it when other people who write collaboratively come right out in public and say that they keep on writing collaboratively by communicating a lot, thus strongly implying that a lot of communication is useful for purposes of collaboration. This is all I’m saying. I like it when other people say it because it provides a broad hint that I’m not stark staring mad – or at least that I’m not stark staring mad simply because I think communication is useful for purposes of collaboration. There may be other reasons to think so (she said darkly) but that’s not one of them, at least not if E and E are anything to go by, and why shouldn’t they be?
Actually writing collaboratively can be quite good fun, in its way. Especially when there’s an eight hour time difference between the collaborators, which throws up all sorts of extra challenges.
Right, that’s enough autobiographical chat for one year. This isn’t one of those dear diary places, after all. Except I might tell you about the new Sculpture Park that just opened down the hill from where I live. Some time.