It can be the biggest joy or the most miserable headache-- sometimes both at the same time!
My earliest stories were collaborations. Me and my best friend, a couple of 4th grade girls who knew everything about everything (obviously!) We had a notebook to share, and the back and forth exchange of some super dramatic prose.
I'm still shocked those works remain unpublished today.
Over the years, I've had the opportunity to collaborate many times with many awesome people: friends, family, colleagues, and even random, cool acquaintances met through the power of the interwebz. Sometimes I joined others on art projects, sometimes on magazine and newspaper articles, sometimes on novels and short stories. Many times our efforts developed into beautiful, fully formed works - other times they never really got off the ground. But each collaborative experience - good or bad - was unique and taught me something in the end.
Sharing ideas and merging styles can be such a thrill! I suggest anyone who is interested in collaborating try it... at least once.
That said, there are always inherent dangers to partnering in creative pursuits. Dramatic disagreements about the direction a story should take, tears and hurt feelings, financial and royalty issues, even the potential for an unfriendly end of the collaboration (if not the acquaintanceship/friendship itself in some cases!) are all real possibilities.
You may eventually find yourself in the sad position of asking: What happens to my work now, legally speaking?
Christopher Schiller wrote a brilliant article about the legal biz of collaboration. Read it. Absorb it.
Falling out with a collaborator can be lonely business. You never want to say anything publicly about your creative partner that might be unfair or make a bad situation worse -- and like your joined ideas, you may have a merged social circle, making finding a confidante difficult.
I don't write this to say, don'
tcollaborateandrunawayasfarasy oucan! But just be smart about it. Draw up a specific collaboration agreement. Talk about the hard stuff. What happens to the stories if the collaboration ends? What about ideas you developed together? Works in progress?
It doesn't matter if you are the best of friends. In fact it might be even better to draw up that agreement if you ARE the best of friends.
A collaboration agreement won't take the sting out of the falling out, but having one can definitely go a long way to easing the uncertainty surrounding some of these situations.
In conclusion... Be passionate! Collaborate! Merge your ideas with others'! Make beautiful things together! Just be smart and careful while doing it.