On Tuesday night, I made the mistake of asking a question.

“So, how are you feeling about how the story’s going?”

Because honestly, I wasn’t feeling so great about it. We’d been writing very slowly after a sudden burst of energy the week before, but that might just have been the burdens of work. The previous chapter and a half had been like pulling teeth, and some of the character elements I’d thought we’d agreed on seemed to be going by the wayside. But if Emery felt good about it, I wasn’t going to fight it. It’s one of the C’s of team writing. Compromise. Which is not to say I won’t fight like the devil for something I think is important, but if it’s not, I have to give way. Which leads to the other major C. Communication. I needed to know where her head was at so I could follow along.

“Honestly?” she answered (I’m paraphrasing) “Not so great. We skipped all this stuff two chapters ago which is making this all feel very disjointed.”

I was gobsmacked. Not because she was wrong, because she wasn’t (and she’s enjoying rubbing my nose in the fact that I’ve admitted that), but because that hadn’t even been on my radar. I had a whole different set of issues and had been clueless about hers. We talked about it and agreed we need to go back and flesh things out, but it left us both not feeling very good about the project.

That’s the peril of communication. Sometimes you hear things you don’t want to. But you still have to ask the questions and have the conversation, even if it leaves you on shaky ground.

So we’ve been ignoring that project. For now.

In the meantime, Emery’s been reading one of our old, abandoned WIPs. It was meant to be the next book in the Rule of Three series, but we’ve brought that series to an end more for market reasons than for lack of passion for the characters. The book was a little darker than the rest of the series (hard to do, considering!) and it left the characters in a bad way with no out. Parts of it we adored, and the premise overall was strong, but it was in that series, and that series was done. End of.

Until Emery asked a question.

“What if…”

Well, the what if was genius. Absolute fucking genius. And as soon as I said yes, she was off, renaming characters and working on titles and being very quiet on her end which either means she’s working in meatspace or she’s rewriting. I know I’ve said this before (and she grudgingly accepts it) but she is the best rewriter I know, bar none. I have seen her take perfectly decent stories, work her magic on them, and end up with something better than brilliant. I’m so excited to see what she’s doing until I get to jump in and play, too.

Asking questions is dangerous. But it’s worth it. Even when you don’t get the answer you were expecting, or get an answer to a question you didn’t know you were even asking, it’s still worth it. Every time.

 

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