I am two people, and two people are me.
For starters there’s Ben Trube, Writer and Ben Trube, Person. Me the writer has been blogging for a year and a half, and now has a new Facebook page. The Ben Trube on the blog is usually me, either at the end of a long evening or early in the morning. But the Ben Trube on Facebook is me the brand, and that’s the work of me the person and my editor (who also goes by “the little red haired girl” or “my wife”).
In other words, writing and publishing are not solo endeavors.
It can be hard as a writer to collaborate. So much of the early process of a book is done alone, whether it’s planning out a storyline, or writing a chapter. This is to many the most romantic part of the job of author, the creative thinker in the high tower (or coffee shop) bringing words to life with flick of his pen (or tap of his fingers).
And it takes ego to write. It is a somewhat arrogant thought to think that you have something to say that others should read, doubly so if you’re doing it three times a week. All of us may have a book inside us, but writers are the ones crazy enough to force other’s to read it, even rough drafts we should probably touch up before ever letting them see the light of day.
But we need other people.
The self-publishing era seems to be the purest expression of the author in the high tower. I can write something, and in an instant you can be reading it. But even in that small contract there are two participants. And the fact is a lot of self-published eBooks (probably the majority) are rough. My unfiltered and unedited thoughts are not always the most appealing. There are times I can come off like a pompous know-it-all, and sometimes I’m just an ass. Even if I don’t mean to be (and believe me I’m a teddy bear at heart), I can come off as a less than appealing version of myself without my partner.
I think I in fact have the most romantic of writing relationships, the husband and wife working together. She calls me on “constipated” thinking (we both love Finding Forrester), she corrects my grammar, and she works to understand subject matter that is of little interest to her, just to help me do what I want to do. It is one thing to edit a fiction story in a common genre like mystery which may not be your thing but can still be engaging. It is quite another to walk through technical language, and equations, and unusual math. My wife has taken on this task with grace, and humor, and has made the work better in ways I couldn’t.
And she is helping me to develop the Ben Trube, writer you see on Facebook, to reach out to new audiences who might not otherwise see my work.
It is still difficult to be sure. There are times when I slip and think of this as only my work. But the truth is there are many people who’ve been helping me along, whether it’s hard editing, technical reading, or just sending good vibes my way. I’m grateful for everyone who’s helped me to get to this point, and I hope that I can show them most of the time that they are appreciated.
If this sounds a little bit like a love sonnet to my wife, you’re not wrong. Madeline L’Engle worked with her husband on a lot of her early stories, and it’s clear that he was part of what made them clearer and concise. Upon his death, and left to her own devices, her work was longer and stranger. She was still a good writer, but the partnership with her husband made her a great writer. I’m lucky to have such a partnership with my own wife.