Photo courtesy of Micaela Maftei and Laura Tansley.
This is the fourth and final guest blog in our fortnightly series by collaborative authors Micaela Maftei, based in Victoria, British Columbia, and Laura Tansley, based in Glasgow, UK. Both writers completed Creative Writing PhDs at the University of Glasgow, where they met. They have gone on to co-author short stories and continue to do so from opposite sides of the Atlantic, with their forthcoming short story collection soon to be published by Vagabond Voices. They are truly contemporary transatlantic literary women. Read on to find out more about their process!
Open Waters IV: Anchoring ourselves
As we enter the final editorial stages of producing a collection of collaborative short stories we inevitably begin to look beyond this project, imagining what our relationship, writing and ambition might look like in the future. We wonder: will our co-writing be more or less fixed after this experience?
What’s perhaps increasingly clear is how reliant we’ll be on embracing the transatlantic and exploring this as an interesting and unique aspect of our work. Will the collection strike a more Canadian chord somehow if Micaela presents it solo at an event in Victoria? Will its hybridity be emphasised if we launch the collection together in Glasgow? If Laura takes copies to an event in London will readers recognise, blurry and unfixed as they are, like the authorial voice itself, the different landscapes in our stories? When place and displacement are features of both the process and the practice, it seems fair to anticipate a response from readers that engages with these themes; our separation and separateness becoming both a feature and an anxiety of the publishing process and perhaps our ongoing collaborations.
But an important part of publishing a collection for us will be the opportunity to extend the conversation that we’ve been having with each other about how stories are made and told, both directly and indirectly through our collaborative writing and our process, with a wider audience that might share or query our concerns. There are the stories themselves, little floating islands that build and erode as they travel between readers, but underneath them is a collaborative current which provides context. This water is as deep as any person is willing to travel if they are intrigued enough, and we are interested by the possibility of how any reading might contribute to our understanding of ourselves as co-writers.
This project, begun years ago, moving from experiment to habit to deadline-driven task, has been sustained for the better part of a decade. So what comes next? Co-writing isn’t something we want to leave behind, but maybe we need a pause, a breather. Moving on to a new project is always something of a wrench once a piece of work is completed. Now, after all of our discussion and analysis and probing and questioning, we won’t be approaching a new project with anything like our original level of uncertainty but we can’t imagine working together on something that doesn’t, at the very least, inspire the same amount of curiosity. Hopefully, when we’re ready and energized, it’ll be with a different kind of confidence to approach a new challenge; one which continues to resonate with our ideas on writing, as well as insisting that we expand and explore this understanding. We’d like to return to that space where ripples met and confused the concentric self-centredness of our individual voices, finding new ways to launch words towards each other, creating waves that exhilarate and engulf us. This puts us in mind of the classic primary school wet-break-time game ‘consequences’, where a story is started, the paper is folded and a partner continues the narrative. We like the mystery of this as well as the slowing down into detail.
In the meantime we’re excited to plan an event that will celebrate this collection and explore collaboration. The planning is transatlantic, and the delivery will (hopefully) not be. At the moment we’re busy thinking of ways to create a space to discuss the nature of this project’s creation while also launching a finished product: a book we’re proud of and ready to let go of. We look forward to collaborating with Vagabond Voices for this; please keep an eye on their website and Twitter for information as and when it comes, we’d love to talk and explore collaborative short fiction with anyone and everyone that’s interested.
By Laura Tansley and Micaela Maftei