A Tale of Teaming Up {Preserve Your Story ~ Day 13}

We’ve talked about writing what makes you cry, writing your everyday mercies found in the accidental collage in your junk drawer, writing timeless truths in the fresh language of kid’s quotables, writing your brokenness and writing the story-lines of answered prayer. While all of these tend to stem from personal experience, I’d like to round out this section of our series with something outside ourselves, the amazing experience of writing a story that is not our own.

My husband, literary agent to an amazing array of award-winning and bestselling authors, recently celebrated the release of “Walter & Me: Standing in the Shadow of Sweetness,” not just as agent for the book, but as co-writer. I enjoyed being part of the process as I helped him work through material and edit the drafts. As Craig crafted each chapter in Eddie’s words and voice, and did his part in putting the brothers’ legend on printed page, we got to know the book-writing process on a deeper level, and we got to know the Paytons’ story by heart. Read below to hear Craig’s perspective on the value of writing someone else’s story.

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We all know about writer’s block. If you write for a living…or even if you just write as part of the life you’re living…chances are you’ve been there. But have you ever heard of “story’s block?” Ok, maybe that’s not an actual term, but think about it…. Just as some writers have nothing to write, some stories have no one to write them. Eddie Payton, former NFL player and older brother of football legend, Walter Payton, had one such story.

A couple of years ago, on a flight back home to Jackson, Mississippi, Eddie met a guy named Paul Brown. The two got to talking about fishing and football and growing up in Mississippi. Eddie had lots of stories to tell, many of them about growing up with Walter. All those stories were coming together as one big story. Eddie knew he needed someone to help him tell it. And would you believe that Paul, the very guy Eddie was talking to, just happened to be a writer?

The very next day, Paul got in touch with me, his literary agent, to fill me in on Eddie’s potential project. I saw promise in it right away and began work on finding it a home. With the goal being to get the book out to the public as soon as possible, Paul knew he would need some help, not only in placing the book at a publisher, but in writing it. He and I had just successfully collaborated as co-writers on pro golfer Boo Weekley’s book, “True Boo: Gator Catchin’, Orangutan Boxin’, and My Wild Ride to the PGA Tour,” and we teamed up again to help Eddie write his book, “Walter & Me: Standing in the Shadow of Sweetness.”

As a literary agent, it’s a lot of fun to watch an idea transform into a book, seemingly overnight. After writing for Eddie’s book, I can tell you most certainly that an idea never transforms into a book overnight. Indeed, it’s a long, detailed, and time-consuming process…yet a rewarding one. There are the benefits of names on covers and money in wallets, but the most rewarding part of telling someone else’s story is, I think, the process itself. The actual work of forming the interview transcript into a well-sculpted narrative is something that goes far beyond money and fame and other fleeting things. The writing process fills the soul and, in more ways than one, lasts beyond the storyteller and the writer. The money I got from writing the book will go quickly. The little recognition I got will not be remembered by most. But Eddie’s story? I’m happy to say it has been preserved.

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{I know several authors who got their start co-writing or ghost-writing. And I’ve known several friends with a story to tell who need a skilled writer to craft the narrative for them. Along with it being a worthy task on its own, writing for someone else could be just the thing you need to prepare you for writing your own stories/books in the future. Have you ever tried your hand at writing someone else’s story?}

This is Day 13 of my series 31 Days ~ Preserve Your Story, linking up with The Nester’s annual 31 Days of Change.

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