I’m so pleased to introduce a series of blog posts about creating a successful writing partnership to help you with accountability and to give yourself the support you need to get your writing done. As many of you know, one of the purposes of NAMW is to help people find support and connections with other memoir writers. I was happy to see this three-part blog series by Susan Stroh and her writing partner, Heide Boyden. They have been working together for over twenty years and have three articles—this is the first—that offer pearls of wisdom about finding a writing partnership that will help you with writing your memoir.
Partnership is a versatile word, conveying a different nuance depending on the setting, the purpose, and the people involved. For us, partnership means having someone to hold us accountable, fire us up, and make us write!
The two of us have been in a writing partnership for over 20 years. Susan, www.susanstroh.com, has been a dancer, actor and filmmaker, has authored articles, books and screenplays, and keeps busy as an editor, writing coach, and memoir workshop leader.
Heide, www.heideboyden.com, has been a commercial copywriter, producer of advertising and short film productions, author of articles, essays, and a picture book, ghostwriter and editor, and most recently a blogger.
Our partnership began when we co-wrote a spec screenplay and teamed up to pitch our script. Nothing seemed too daunting when we were working side-by-side. Not even Hollywood.
Over the years, our writing styles and genre interests changed. Instead of actually putting words on the page together, we edited, brainstormed, and marketed each other’s work. We have always been each other’s greatest cheerleaders. Today, both of us are working on memoirs, and the partnership has proven more of an asset than we ever knew it could be.
It takes courage to examine one’s life with honesty, and perseverance to mold the rough material into a story that both moves and is moving, enlightens the reader, and is a joy to read. Writing a memoir may be the most demanding and isolating writing you may ever do, so why go it alone? A partner can provide much more intimate and personal support than a writing group, an on-line forum, book, or article.
When you’re triggered by life incidents laden with regret, blame, sorrow, or even trauma, a partner can remind you of your purpose for telling the story in the first place—of your desire to help others navigate the pain that can ultimately make one stronger. A partner is your best friend, your muse, and your advocate even when you have abandoned yourself or your work.
If you can’t find the framework for your story, where it begins or where it ends, your partner will be there. When you don’t know what to cut, your partner has fresh eyes. When scooping the cat box sounds like the most fun you could possibly have, your partner will tell you to get your butt in the chair and write.
In our partnership, there are additional perks that we sometimes take for granted, but are nonetheless valuable. We share industry news, leads on potential agents and editors, and information on bettering our craft or learning a new one.
Extremely important is the editing of our manuscripts. This is where trust and competence come in. When someone is striking a red line through your favorite paragraph, the one that took hours, maybe days to hone, you need to know this person is rooting for you and has the know-how to steer you in a favorable direction. When you hold a fellow writer’s hard work and aspirations in your hands, it’s a responsibility that deserves the utmost respect.
We hope you’ll “tune in” for the next post when we share our time-tested tips on forming a writing partnership and how to leverage it over the long haul. Partnership is a commitment. It’s to be taken seriously, challenged and cherished, prodded and poked, and most of all revered. Bottom line: you commit to be there for each other, always.
Susan B. Stroh lives in Southern California and works with clients across the USA. She sees all she meets as fascinating heroes of their own life stories! From stages of New York to pages of Life Magazine, Susan spent her youth flourishing as a dancer/actor. In Los Angeles, she pursued movie-making as a script supervisor, director and writer. During this time, Susan wrote her award-winning screenplay, Cloudberries, and published articles of human interest and travel. For the last twelve years, Susan has pursued her greatest passion—creatively collaborating with clients and students to discover, write and publish their life stories. She’s writing her own coming-of-age memoir, Hide and Seek in San Francisco!
Heide Boyden began her writing career as a copywriter, then owned a film production company penning everything from ad copy to short form documentaries. Her picture book, The Jelly Boat Book, was published in 2001 (All About Kids Publishing). She has had several articles, essays, and poems published for both the children’s and adult markets. Since moving to Montana, as an empty nester, she’s been writing her high school memoir and happily blogging: The Writer, Wonderer, Wanderer.