We saved a rare yellow lobster from a local supermarket and within a week decided to write a children’s book about the adventure. We barely knew each other, Heather Chalmers and me, having met only briefly a couple of times at functions for writers. Two very different people, we came together because we have compassion for all living things which led to the liberation of Libbie the lobster. Leaping into a co-authorship of a children’s book was exciting but even more, it was a process of achieving a balance whereby we could work together efficiently and effectively to create a work of art.
Achieving that balance was not always easy. Now that our book has gone to print, I look back over the last couple of months in amazement at how well we blended each other’s strengths and overcame our weaknesses. Moving beyond the difficulties that arose served to strengthened our resolve to produce a book we could both be proud of.
In my practice as a psychotherapist, I facilitated many groups. My education had prepared me for the common stages through which groups evolve. They are as follows: and roles
I have considered that even two individuals coming together for a common purpose often develop through these stages as well. Heather and I certainly did. This is how I see the process:
In the beginning, Heather and I would often be distracted from brainstorming ideas for you book and have “getting to know you” conversations (Forming Stage). We found that we have many things in common. We both love writing, reading, children, nature, beach living, spirituality, healthy living, and having fun. We laughed often at our differences too.
As our book began to take shape, important decisions needed to be made. As is the case in groups, where people begin to vie for position and take on roles, i.e. leader, rescuer, agitator, distractor, etc., we began to disagree (Storming Stage). We each dug our heels in about a couple of things and stood ready to fight albeit Heather in her quiet way while I was not so quiet. Many people and groups give up at this stage, but Heather and I made it through and the experience made us better.
We entered into a working relationship whereby we communicated freely and openly (Performing Stage). Each of us seemed to naturally gravitate to things we each were best at doing. Heather coordinated the people involved in the production of our book and I got the word out though social media marketing. We were both learning tremendous skills for future writing projects.
Whether it is a group or two individuals who have found a way to perform effectively, when the relationships end, there is a sense of sadness and loss (Adjourning Stage). For now however, Heather and I are a long way from adjourning. We are brainstorming ideas for our second children’s book! We have achieved a balance in our working relationship (our labor of love) and have become great friends meanwhile.
I would love to hear your thoughts about what I have written here. And thanks for reading!