Doors to the Past

Of course, that title is not final.

The most brilliant stories come from friendship, writer friends deciding to co-author a book. On an overcast day in early October of 2020, my friend Jon invited me over FaceTime to collaborate with him on a story idea. I couldn’t have been more excited, though he had no pre-conceived ideas for what the story could be. So, the canvas was wide open.

Since the beginning of our friendship as dorm mates in college, I had known Jon to keep his creative efforts to himself, declining politely any offer from me to collaborate. Yet I persisted, despite his reservations, spreading my offers out strategically over months and years, my end goal to wear down his apprehensions. We both loved the written word. We both acknowledged its power to shape the mind, to stimulate the imagination, and to carry the soul to far away places.

But eventually, I gave up. Our friendship was more important to me than any creative collaboration. We had great times together — drinking coffee, eating pancakes, fruits salads — outside our private efforts to get jobs in a recession after college. With the passage of time, we got to know each other well, making it obvious that we operated on contrasting temperaments, different levels of energy. I was outgoing and eager, but he was reserved and cautious. He was happy dabbling in feasible short story projects here and there, and I anxiously sought opportunities to jumpstart my writing career, mulling endlessly over the perfect novel idea. Coming up with compelling, multidimensional characters was very difficult for me, let alone weaving a plot together. I became jealous of Jon’s steady nature as he pumped out short stories and refined them year after year. He had an objectively nuanced approach to sentence structuring and character interactions.

Over coffee and pancakes, which was a morning vocation we often splurged on, he articulated the need for my lofty, intellectual concepts to have grounded characters in readable scenes. Of course, with Jon across from me at a table in Denny’s or IHOP, asking questions, this seemed like a lesson I could learn. Unfortunately, when we parted ways, returning to our private lives, I floundered in the clouds of my imagination, unable to peg my grandiose ideas under the secured tents of Beginning, Middle, and End.

It was hundreds of cups of coffee later that Jon expressed interest in a collaboration. What a momentous day! My quiet, unwavering patience had paid off. Jon and I began brainstorming story ideas like gods in the clouds forging lightning bolts to make war against the pathetic humans below. We had a lot of fun, bouncing ideas off each other, sketching character profiles and carving themes out of the woodwork of our brilliant minds. Unfortunately, after a handful of meetings, we found that the story being forged in our rogue workshop was manifesting on a level of sophistication that challenged us beyond our skills and experience as writers. We wanted the novel to stand toe-to-toe with the emotional twang of a Pixar film.

So, we had to shelve it for a later time. But we haven’t given up! Never will we concede to the POWERS OF RESISTANCE.