The discussion follows, amongst other things, a collaborative story started by Michelle Elvy in 2012. Hopping continents from writer to writer, the initial story branched into eight separate versions which can be read here (along with a beautiful mother-daughter collaboration called ‘Two Cups of Tea’).
There are some interesting points. Collaborative storytelling, with its focus on community and sharing, harks back to the oral tradition; to gatherings and our storytelling origins. As Beate Sigriddaughter puts so warmly and eloquently,
…collaboration drives home to me that we’re all in this together and that we all belong…
For the writer, this means as we share our story, we also prepare to relinquish control: when we pass the story on, the next writer steers the plot down any path they choose, which may or may not please the earlier contributors. As Claire King points out, it’s possible to end up with a story that a sole contributor would not have written, or wanted to see published, in its final form.
Does it matter? Does the richness of many voices compensate for any plot glitches or seams in collaborative stories? Or is the collaboration something to be celebrated for its own sake?
To me, while the stories may not be polished, they are vibrant, they do reflect the warmth of belonging, and for the occasional hell of it, it feels good to relinquish a bit of control. Just for a moment.
My thanks to Michelle Elvy for setting this up, for the enjoyment, for the publication… for all of it, really.