So pleased to host Megan Morrison today, celebrating the publication of her debut novel, Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel. I love the recent spate of retold fairy tales and am thinking Megan’s book would be a nice pairing with Liesl Shurtliff’s Rump and Jack. As someone who has also enjoyed collaborating on book projects (two nonfiction picture books with my friend Mary Nethery), I share Megan’s enthusiasm for writing partnerships. Take it away, Megan!
I’m so glad to be a part of Friend Friday.
In my experience, friends and writing are inseparable. My debut novel, GROUNDED: THE ADVENTURES OF RAPUNZEL, is the first in a series that’s set in the world of Tyme, a place I co-created with my long-time friend Ruth Virkus. Ruth and I have spent many happy hours together inventing Tyme’s places, creatures, and people.It’s fun to share the creative process, and it keeps me motivated to know that I have a built-in audience member who will read whatever I write, no matter how many times I have to write it. Most of all, I love having a friend in this process with me – someone who knows the series just as well as I do and who loves it just as much, whom I can turn to for help when a plot point or a world detail seems unsolvable.
There was a time before I knew that this kind of cooperative process was okay. I thought that Real Writing was supposed to be a lonely, isolated, friendless endeavor, a craft reserved for solitary genius-type people who knew everything there was to know about writing and didn’t need outside input. If I were a Real Writer, I thought, then I would sequester myself all alone in a dark cave and emerge years later, cringing in the light and clutching my newborn classic. I worried that because I liked making up stories with my friend and then writing them down, my stories and my writing were somehow rendered less legitimate. One of the most heartening things about becoming a published author has been meeting other authors and discovering how very wrong I was. The more authors I talk to, the clearer it becomes that while the writing itself may be lonely sometimes, the rest of the process doesn’t have to be.
Every writer I’ve met – every single one – benefits from a community of support, encouragement, and constructive criticism. We need those literary friendships: to give us perspective when we’re too close to the work, to show us strategies and resources we wouldn’t have found on our own, and to cheer us on when we run out of faith in ourselves. The bond that develops between the main characters in GROUNDED, Rapunzel and Jack, is exactly that kind of friendship. In fact, as I think about their relationship, I realize that they embody my beliefs about collaboration very well. Here they are: 1. Listen 2. Ask questions 3. Be patient 4. It’s okay not to know things 5. It’s okay to change your mind 6. It’s okay to need space 7. Work together to solve the big problems 8. Stand up for what you believe in 9. Give credit where credit is due 10. Laugh as much as possible There’s no way I would have finished GROUNDED in the first place, let alone arrived at a point where I was ready to make the leap into publishing, if I had tried to do it all alone. So thank you, Ruth Virkus, co-creator of Tyme, for making this cool thing happen with me. And thanks to all the friends who pushed us onward when we ran out of gas along the way. And thank you, Kirby, for the opportunity to be here!
Megan Morrison is a mom, a middle-school teacher, and the author of GROUNDED: THE ADVENTURES OF RAPUNZEL (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic). GROUNDED is the first book in the Tyme series, co-created with Ruth Virkus. Visit her website here.