On Collaborators and/or Apprentices

By Dolores J. Nurss

Chapter 7

I cannot escape the realization that I can't possibly write all of the dream-tales given me in my lifetime—not properly. And yet in my dreams I have promised all of the principle participants to remember them, to share their adventures with my world. So, sooner or later, I must take on collaborators.
I promise you thankless work, I have to admit, unless you count my own gratitude and those of my characters. I do not reap payment for it, at this point, and if I ever do, I expect it will be penny ante. I can promise that if anyone shows an interest in paying for a story collaborated on, that my collaborators will get a fair cut, amount depending on whether and to what extent I also share in the actual writing, in addition to bleeding inspiration and information for the cause. But I don't see much likelihood of that. I would fiercely hold onto creative control, of course, as these are my dreams, and whatever one might write from them ultimately amounts to authorized biography. But if anyone feels dragged into this world by their own muse, and cannot shake a passion to write about it, let me know and I will work with you.
For you would gain much source-material by coming to me directly. I would then provide you with all of the dreams relevant to a story, and tell you whatever you need to know about what goes before, after, and sideways to a tale, as it comes up. I would fill you in on details concerning geography, costumes, customs, religions, cultures and subcultures, art-forms, nature, architecture—whatever you need. I would open locked rooms in my mind for you, even when it hurts. Because my own muse imposes demands of his own on me.
I would show a preference for those who have already written fanfic in the worlds of other writers. I could then see how well you do justice to somebody else's vision, how well you blend in your own creativity, and with what word-skill. (I mourn that a few immoral individuals have made fanfic so legally dicey, because it's one of the greatest training-grounds for new young writers going.) And if you wish to check out my own fanfic to see how much leeway I am and am not willing to give, feel free at Tolkien Tales.
(To summarize the basics—pre-established characters must stay consistent. New characters may vary wildly, even from their own culture, provided the writer gives good enough reasons for the divergence. Everything must have an explanation consistent with the original canon, eventually and clearly divulged. Cultures may have subcultures not imagined by the writer, but the secondary writer must bear the burden of explaining how such came to be, why they're a natural outgrowth, and, if necessary, why they got overlooked in the telling of larger tales. If these would come into conflict with pre-existing cultures, that must show.)
If someone approaches me with great passion but no great skill, I would endeavor to teach this one. (I would also teach someone already talented who wants to learn more. Oh heck, I'll teach anybody and learn from anybody I can, as I've always done.) I will not deny passion if I can help it, for it can drive people beyond their predicted limits, and some passions come from a higher authority than I should dare to argue with. But I do not guarantee that collaboration will result; some passions, on the other hand, turn out nothing more than passing daydreams that wilt in the face of work. Nevertheless I do believe in apprenticeship, especially in the creative fields, where one must convey more than mere recipes or manuals can contain. If you want to build some writing-muscle, I will gladly meet my duty as your drill sergent. But you have to want it.
I warn you, if you take this on, these people will get into your dreams. And your nightmares. In fact, you might become these people in your sleep, and do things you never before imagined, and you'd have to live with that. Perhaps this has happened already and you've got nothing to lose.
So...does anyone read this still feel foolhardy enough to venture into Novatierre on a deeper level than as a reader? You know where to find me.

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