Twilight Times Special Feature


Writing the Duet
by Steve Lazarowitz


I have a confession to make. I donít know Tammy Mackenzie. I have never see her face, I have never heard her voice. I wouldnít recognize her in a crowd, or even if she showed up at my front door, which would be a good trick, considering she doesnít have my address. In spite of this handicap, Tammy and I wrote a short story together, that seemed to be well received.

Writing A Tale of Two Rushricks was my first experience working with another author. It was, at first an odd feeling. When working by yourself, you are the boss. You can make any character do anything or say anything. You can invent plot twists that you had never intended to include, without making any excuse. If you donít like the way something's happening you can rip it out by the roots and start over.

Writing tandem, so to speak, is different. Each move and change you make is now done with the knowledge that your partner must follow your lead. No matter how much you discuss plot before hand, there are unexpected turn offs that have to be allowed for...rare but wonderful inspirations that must be inserted carefully into the creation, so that both of you can take the ball and run with it.

Tammy Mackenzie is a brilliant woman. I can say this with confidence, in spite of the fact that we have never met. We have done more than meet. During the last week, we have emailed each other over a hundred times each and spent countless hours exchanging both ideas and life stories on ICQ and the IRC, two real time communications programs.

When Raechel Henderson, editor of Jackhammer Ezine first asked me to be part of a duet, I was flattered. She was in a bind. One of her writers, for whatever reason, couldnít be a part of the duet and it was supposed to start the next day. Much like learning to swim by being thrown into the ocean, I managed to stay afloat. The writers had had three weeks to prepare for the job and I had a day. I was walking into the middle of someone elses project and life was calling for me to adapt.

I was a bit apprehensive before "meeting" Tammy for the first time. She emailed me and we arranged a rendevous on the Internet. Seems hard to believe it was only a week ago. "Tell me about yourself," she said.

I typed a few lines, with some mundane background information. When I was done, she typed back, "Youíre supposed to be a writer....TELL me about yourself."

And I did. About five paragraphs in greater detail. She gave me some info about her and then suggested that we each read some of each others work, so we could get a feel for how we write. She emailed me a short story and I gave her the URL to find my short story "Music to My Ears."

After reading her story, even before she returned to our meeting, I knew that it would be okay. Here was a writer with whom I could relate. Then she came back and told me what she thought of my story. She LOVED it. This interchange of written words was probably the best thing we could have done, because we entered the project with great respect for each others abilities. If Tammy wanted to say that she had a problem with my....dialogue, for example, I would have to take it seriously, based on what I knew about her skill. And if she had lets say a problem with overusing gerunds and adverbs, well, she would be receptive to my suggestions on the matter.

During the next days, as we worked together we learned more about each other. I learned that she had a sense of humor and like me, was not sensitive. The gentle suggestions became sarcasm and insults, in a way that only friends can condone.

We called each other names, and told each other jokes. We passed pieces of the story back and forth via email, each building upon the others foundation. We even spent some time just talking, because we discovered that we really liked each other.

Last night, I wrote the rough draft for the last part of "Tale of Two Rushricks" and emailed it to her. Once again, she challenged my dialogue. We laughed about our disagreements and she will likely change the whole thing to her liking, and I might well change some of it back. But whatever we end up with, I have no doubt will be awesome. It is almost as if we are each others consciences, warning the other about the dangers of certain paths.

I donít know Tammy Mackenzie and yet I know her as well as I know myself. There is no image to prejudice my judgment of her, no pretense between us that I need to see around. I believe there is nothing between us but pure honesty, which is necessary for any two people that wish to write together.

Perhaps my opening summation was not accurate. As it turns out, I know Tammy Mackenzie very well.


Author Bio

Steve Lazarowitz lives in Brooklyn. His work has appeared in numerous on-line zines including AnotherRealm, Exodus, Twilight Times, The Dragonsclaw Showcase (which he edits), Jackhammer, Dream Forge, Aphelion, Titan and A Little Read Writer Hood. In addition, release of his short story anthology A Creative Edge: Tales of Speculations is imminent. Steve has written numerous reviews for SFSITE and was the SF and Fantasy Editor for Twilight Times Books, now Dark Star Publications.


  Read Steve's author interview

Stories by Steve:

Born of Darkness
"Music to my Ears"
"Sea Trap: Part I
"Sea Trap: Part II
"The Tree"

An epic poem
"The Battle




Copyright © 1999 Lida E. Quillen. All rights reserved.
This page last updated 10-18-99.

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