After months of pretty good activity, my little writer's group got an infusion of new blood from the larger group. I don't know how twice as many people translated in half as many posts, but it did. Poking Julie (the muse and task master) to have something for the group next month, we found we're in the same boat--working on edits with nothing else we're prepared to share.
A couple of jokes later and we started to work on a pretty serious collaboration.
My experience working with other writers pretty much consisted of two childhood friends and I doing rounds for a few pages and then not, and with my husband who lays out fantastic story ideas and then decides that his work there is done. Yep. I've had experience in *not* collaborating.
I went in search of advice on the web and found a ton of crap. But knowing I'd seen something worth while out there, I went through a few blog archives until I found Holly Lisle's How To (and how not to). It covers the obvious issues of who writes what, and also the the business aspects that you might not consider when you think, "Hey, won't this be fun!" And Julie linked me to the two authors writing as one Moira Rogers--a good look at joint writing from a pair successfully doing it.
For me, the last 24+ hours have been a crash course in compromise. It certainly started easy: she took my not-really-kidding joke seriously and we discussed genre, then narrowed down the genre elements. For good or for ill, I "said", I've had this idea that fits, but I've never fully developed it. Instant progress! But as we developed the idea, it went places I would never take it. That was a little less fun. But part of collaborating is having that fresh mindset and seeing beyond your own point of view, right? Right.
It got later. She presented me with a host of ideas for the main character that, if I saw them on the back of a book cover, I'd put it back on the shelf and look for something better. I knew, even in my tired and grumpy state, that "better" really translates into "more my taste," but tired for me translates into bitchy, so I think I just projected, "You're wrong." Lucky for our friendship, if not for my mood, being sleepy becomes being silly for Julie, so the ideas she gave got more and more humorously away from what we were trying to do, but she never told me to go to hell.
Sleep came to our rescue. In the morning, destructive personality quirks were gone and we were able to get down to business; for me, that meant I could articulate the flaws I saw in certain things and stop holding on to others that kept my world from becoming ours. After a few hours, magic happened--we'd type the same thing at the same time, like old friends who knew each other's mind. Then we were back to negotiating, 'cause this stuff isn't easy.