One of us likes deep research. The other obsesses over word choice. Both of us are morning people. We like brisk walks, art museums to invigorate the mind, and sharing finds on social media. Manhattan or Martini? We'd be split. One of us likes gin a little more than rye, but if we were going to share a drink we'd probably defer to one another to the point of silliness, then ask the bartender to create something on the fly.
What we've realized by forming a writing team together is that we write books that we'd never have written solo. In fact, when we spent the holidays together -- toasting not one but two books published in 2016 -- we couldn't stop laughing. How on earth had we managed to accomplish such a thing? After all, at this time last year we were both working full time (André was opening a restaurant and Tenaya teaches writing) and furiously trying to finish Movie Night Menus for a February deadline.
So, we decided to start the New Year with a quick inventory of our writing practice. Here's what worked, and here's what we'd like to improve in 2017. Already, we are deep into book #3!
Best Collaborative Moment
André: We spend a lot of time together just the two of us, working and writing. It's been a real thrill to get out into the world and interact together in a live format this year. We've made some forays into doing events, notably for Think Brownstown's UXD Leadership Summit in Philadelphia, and a happy hour for Google headquarters in New York. It's amazing to get in front of an audience and have fun, but also to watch Tenaya go. Her presentation is so on point -- after all this time working together, there are skills Tenaya possesses that are new to me and wowing. It's a blast.
Tenaya: During the last round of recipe-development for Movie Night Menus, André and I knew we wanted to feature Scotch and apple pie for "The Big Chill." But neither of us felt confident about pie crust. It was the last recipe we developed together, and Andre literally spent a day researching crust techniques, then explained it to me over the phone -- step by step -- while I cubed cold butter and gently combined it with the flour by hand (using a frozen mixing bowl and working quickly so my body heat wouldn't melt the fat too much). The pie I baked that night was a showpiece! I pulled it out of the oven, the crust perfectly golden, and let out a whooop. Then I phoned a couple friends and invited them over for a spontaneous pie party.
Most Useful Shared Habit
André: "Bird by bird," as Anne Lamott says. Both Tenaya and I have tenacity in the face of deadlines from our days as journalists. The books are daunting, but as expert 'nibblers,' we wake up one fine day and the deed is done. Work ethic über alles. It is monumentally helpful that when a task is particularly discouraging, there is another person to motivate you and coach you through -- we don't want to let ourselves down but we REALLY don't want to fail our sibling!
Tenaya: We both like to wake up early and start writing first thing. Usually, we hop on Google+ around 8 a.m. -- we'll take stock of what needs doing as we go about making coffee or tea in our separate kitchens. Then, we'll open the Google doc and start writing together. Often, one of us will dictate phrasing or float an idea, and the other will type. But often, we bounce around one another's cursors like a pair of bees working to pollenate the same sentence.
Trait We Like Best About the Other Person
André: Tenaya is extraordinarily chill and politic. In the very rare moments she does edge toward volcanic, I send flowers.
Tenaya: André never stays mad. Not event for a minute. When we disagree on something, it's a very short-lived disagreement.
How We'd Like to Improve Our Work Lives
André: A little breathing room. We've been cramming and can feel it!
Tenaya: Schedule a sibling writing retreat. Take time to recharge and brainstorm new ideas.
Goals for 2017
Tell us about you! What do you have stewing for 2017?