The discussion follows on from a collaborative story started by Michelle Elvy in 2012. Hopping continents from writer to writer, the initial story branched into eight separate versions which can be read here (along with a beautiful mother-daughter collaboration called ‘Two Cups of Tea’).
It’s good to see; to me, collaborative storytelling feels intuitively right, harking back to oral tradition, gatherings and camp fires at which hunters and gatherers might share their days. Or as Beate Sigriddaughter puts so warmly and eloquently,
… collaboration drives home to me that we’re all in this together and that we all belong …
I found the process interesting, too. Instead of writing a piece, editing, and ensuring its quality before release, we had to write and pass it on unfinished to the next writer. This loss of control over the final version took a moment to accept. As Claire King points out, it’s possible to end up with a story that a sole contributor would not have written or wanted to see published in its final form.
Does it matter? Does the richness of many voices compensate for any plot glitches or seams in collaborative stories?
To me, while the stories may not be polished, they’re vibrant and reflect our trust and belonging, and for this it was worth relinquishing a bit of control.
My thanks to Michelle Elvy for setting this up, for the enjoyment, for the publication… for all of it, really.