Working with my brother

My brother, Julian, and I have been working together on two or three projects for a few years now. None of them have yet seen the harsh light of day but come October the first of these will be published: our graphic novel entitled Dark Satanic Mills.

By way of early celebration, we decided to each write and publish a blog post simultaneously, without reference to what the other brother was writing. This is my take; a link to Julian’s is below…

We’re still a few months away from publication as I write, yet already we are often asked what it’s like to work with your brother.

Writing in collaboration is very different from working by yourself. I can’t say I like it more or less than working on a book on your own; it has some advantages and it has some drawbacks. Overall I think it’s an easier task in many ways – we often find that we leap ahead in the course of one conversation, getting to a place I suspect it would have taken me months to get to by myself. Another advantage is built-in editing – by discussing things aloud we often censure ideas that aren’t up to scratch, are clichéd or are otherwise best left unwritten. Perhaps most importantly, when done well, I think the combination of two people’s imaginations should be greater than the sum of the individuals; that something more weird and wonderful is sparked and brought to life through collaboration. I

The disadvantages? The main thing, for me, is exactly because you’re living in a world of two people’s creation. I think most writers would recognise that when you make a story, some part of your mind goes to live in the world that you’re creating. It’s an internal space and it’s very intense at times. Emerging from one’s writing cave, at the end of a day’s work, can feel like you’ve been away for a long time on a distant journey. But when this world is no longer exclusively an internal space, that feeling is altered somewhat. Less intense. Maybe this doesn’t matter if the end result is the same, or indeed better, than working on your own, and it’s certainly less tiring working in collaboration. There’s also someone else there to keep your nerve together at times when you’re doubting yourself, and it also should be said that it’s an awful lot of fun; as can be seen from the photo above; a day when we were doing some corrections to the page proofs of Dark Satanic Mills.

So that’s collaboration; however, the added element with Julian and me is that we’re brothers. I guess for many siblings this just wouldn’t work, but for us, it does. We’re very close, we always have been, and our childhood, growing up in a rather remote corner of the countryside, was largely one we created between us in a thousand games and flights of imagination. So we’re used to that process, including the ‘resolution of differences’… and there the main thing is that you respect the person you’re working with; or their writing talents at least, and I respect my brother’s skills enormously.

We’re about to embark on a new collaborative book project, and I for one can’t wait. I only hope my  brother, over here, is typing the same thing…

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