Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

December 13, 2013

LEFFLER: Working with others has its ups and downs

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — I’ve always considered myself a good team player. By myself, I can be a mess. But in a group, I truly excel. I think it’s because I want to do my best for others. 

As an example, when my girls are home, the house is cleaned and I cook dinner every night. When they’re not around? Well, let’s just say that when they’re at their mom’s the dishes tend to pile up and my typical nightly meal consists of leftovers or coffee. Both if I’m lucky. In cases of extended absences, my oldest daughter will text me reminding me to eat. I usually head straight for the fridge as I text back my thanks.

Sometimes, though, doing things by yourself is the only way to ensure things get done as you had imagined they would. If you have a vision of how life should be, there’s nothing that will screw that vision up more quickly than sharing it with someone of a different mindset.

I’ve always thought of myself as a writer, even though for the past few years the only thing I’ve written on a regular basis was this column each week. In 2013, though, I’ve joined forces with two other writers and we’ve really hunkered down to accomplish some things. We’ve had a lot of fun and we’ve written some cool material. It’s inspired me to push harder on that novel I always said I was going to write. And it’s kept me focused in times when I let the dishes pile up, if you know what I mean.

Craig Bacon, George Root and I have recently begun an experiment of sorts to hone our writing skills. One of us starts writing a story and then passes it on to the next, who adds to it and passes it on to the third. It goes around in a circle twice and then back to the original writer who finishes it off and fixes Craig’s spelling.

Our most recent work was something that I started called “Peppermint the Christmas Penguin.” It was meant to be a heartwarming tale of an unemployed penguin living in Los Angeles and trying to land a job as a movie star and/or save Christmas. That’s how it started out, at least.

I shipped it off to George who sent it on to Craig and then back to me. By the time I got it back, I knew it was not going the be the holiday classic I had hoped for. By the time we were finished it was more Tim Burton than James Stewart.

See, sometimes even with the best of intentions, life just gets in the way.

But — the added challenge of trying to figure out how to write around the obstacles we create for each other (and the fun of writing each other into a corner) will eventually make us better writers.

In a few years when we’re all promoting our best sellers, I’ll be able to afford someone to come do my dishes and remind me to eat. 

Scott Leffler undergoes daily therapy sessions called "writing." Sometimes he posts the results of those sessions to Twitter where you can find him @scottleffler.