As Julia said last week, she and I really enjoy each other’s company, so now writing together comes quite easily. But, it wasn’t like that at the beginning.
Initially, we had lots of ideas, and like bees, we’d take the nectar of one, start writing, and then another idea would appear and we’d fly off to that one – each of us in a different direction! That meant we didn’t like what the other had written very much. After a few months of erratic work, we realized we had to make a change. So, to organize our thoughts, we took the dramatic step of leaving family and business behind – and flew to Thailand for two weeks.
In a lovely villa in Phuket in the February warmth of Southeast Asia, we began the serious task of getting our ideas into a logical sequence. We highlighted the good, scrapped the bad, stapled the similar, and pegged thoughts and concepts to every surface; chairs, tables, fridge and doors. Eventually, we had achieved step one – coherent chapter outlines.
It was time to go home; to move onto step two – the book proposal.
Aaaaahhhh! Easier said than done.
Again, in order to focus, we had to run away! But, this time, instead of leaving Hong Kong, we would drive through the New Territories to Sheung Shui, close to the China border. We would start early the next morning, and work through til late that night. One of us would type, the other would pace up and down the room dictating. Then we’d change roles. It took several months to complete the proposal because there was so much reading, research, and checking out the competition – it was important for us to know what stance other writers had taken on the subject.
Sometimes, we’d play devil’s advocate and provoke each other into giving a spontaneous and often fiery response just so we could test our own commitment to our arguments. Other times, there’d be long explanations, littered with personal experiences and conversations. Finally, we got that proposal completed.
We chose a good feng shui day to print out and send off the proposal. We signed the covering letter, sealed the envelope and waited nervously for the courier company to collect the package and deliver it safely to a great agent in New York.
Next came the real challenge: writing the book . . . together!