Wednesday, April 15, 2009


This 1978 Joel Sternfeld photo (via) stands up nicely-analogous alongside the collaborative writing I've been working at sporadically in recent weeks.

The unfamiliar process taught me a great deal about collaborative drafting that I didn't know before. Often it seemed like dabbling on the edges, often like plunging in--designations that captures the uncertainty I felt at times, the turn-taking, and the refreshing experience of opening a Google Doc to find that someone else had poured an hour's worth of smart work into the manuscript since the last session. Sure, I've read a little bit about collaboration, talked about it, even asked students to work together, but until now I can't honestly say that I've undertaken anything quite like this before.

When I first saw the above photograph turn up via TriangleTriangle's RSS feed, I was at a point when it cried out: There's this raging fire to put out. My colleague was intensely engaged in knocking out the flames while I was, like the pumpkin shopper standing in the foreground, basically shitting around. So many pumpkins! I'd flagged the photo for its commentary on collaborative writing--something I was both doing and also thinking of blogging about--and its significance shifted. Not an all reversal of studium and punctum here, but an identity-urgency, an itch: I, too, sought a turn on the ladder. Turn after turn came later, authorial identifications shifted as if caught in a turn-style, and the chapter draft took shape, coming more or less solidly together. This has left me thinking about collaborative writing as worth trying a few more times for the way I now conceive of the process via something like a post-dialogic dual occupancy, standing in the foreground (Which pumpkin?) and on the ladder, happily and at once.

Bookmark and Share Posted by at April 15, 2009 10:25 PM to Methods

I woke up waaaaay down in the Pit of Writing Despair this morning, but this totally pulled me out. Thanks, man.

Posted by: Krista at April 16, 2009 9:22 AM

Any time. Nothing good comes of dwelling in the Pit of WD.

Posted by: Derek at April 16, 2009 4:08 PM