by H.R. Beck
The first steps of friendship and shadows of the comming future. Seconds instalment.
|It’s unclear how I made the transition from the place of observer to a key player in a collaboration that became bigger then real life. Or how it came to be that the words on the paper were more sincere and more revealing then anything I could ever express in real time and space.
All I know is that everything began in a postage stamp bedroom over a bag of red licorice and three very over zealous ladies. I suppose by saying three, it would be more accurate to say Cathrine, myself, and the unnerving provocative woman on the page. Annie (a mutual friend) was there of course but she in my memory of events played little part in what was about to be undertaken. This was to be my first and very personal introduction to the woman that would ultimately divide Cathrine and I and yet bring me closer in some ways then I will ever be again to her as well as my inner self.
At that time, Cathrine and I had yet to develop sufficient trust to call ourselves anything other then shaky acquaintances. We were still at the first stage of friendship. No longer strangers yet not committed friends. We were apposing forces uneasily caught in a cease-fire of wills in order to come together on an unsteady commonality. The need to express ourselves through writing. She was in many respects my rival. The first person who ever challenged my intellect and my conviction. I would say she was every bit my one and only perfect equal as far as I’m concerned. Or perhaps she was just the first.
I’m not quite certain how it was I came to actually write with Catey, rather then Cathrine. It’s hard to say since those first times were spun and blurred until they were hardly distinguishable from one another. What I do recall is that the roles were established early. I was permitted to add my input, but the control of the project was ultimately hers.
One of the first pieces we coauthored was a fight scene that took place in some sort of training facility. I was playing a man who would later have his personality split into two very different men as the writing process continued. He was the first of many evolutionary personalities that would eventually (and arguably) form the characters of John and to a lesser or greater extent Robert. John was some times known as Harris or Harrison given the generation and the varied configuration of characterization. He was at his best and worst, a chauvinistic asshole. Which is why I liked him so much. Just as in our real lives he and Rain (the signature character of Cathrine’s work) were rivals.
If someone had pointed out then that these snippets of collaborative fiction were directly related to the real life relationship between Cathrine and I, I would have been inclined to disagree. To say that I wasn’t aware of the unusual parallels between us and the fictional people we were writing at the time would be a lie. I did notice it rather early. However at the time I did not put much thought into what was happening. I just thought it an amusing coincidence. Later, I knew better.
When she wrote alone Cathrine had an excellent technical writing style. Had she been writing an automotive construction manual it would have served her extremely well. I think it helped that I had such a strong sense of imagination. A lesser person might not have been able to see past the stiff and lifeless styling to see the true glory of what she was trying to create. I saw the undeveloped potential and did everything I could to encourage her.
Meanwhile my own writing was descriptively lacking. The emotion was there, the soul of the characterization was alive. However I lacked the technical description to properly utilize the emotions I was trying to create. So, it was a logical step to join forces. We countered each other’s weaknesses with our individual strengths and together began to breath life into what would become, as I fondly call them, The Chronicles of Rain.
In the beginning I acted more as idea woman then as full-fledged co-author. She would ask for my opinion on a specific scene. How do you think someone would react if I did this? Why do you think so and how would you react if it was you? These were the questions I aided in answering. Much of it was drawn from my own experiences and reflections. I think the biggest problem she was having at the time was her ability to relate to her characters. In those early days Cathrine struggled with characterization particularly where masculine characters were concerned. She just couldn’t write from a man’s perspective or at least not when said man had to interact with a woman. On the other hand, I could. In fact despite the fact that I was female I almost exclusively wrote from the male perspective. This alone elevated me as an invaluable resource. At the time it was one of the chief reasons to keep me around. I knew Cathrine was using me. I knew it then and I know it now. The fact that we became friends was simply a byproduct of our original truce. If I allowed her to use me as she did in the beginning, it was only in the interest of learning more about her at the time. As I’ve said, I wanted to understand who she was and as far as I was concerned her writing was the best way to accomplish that. The simple fact of the matter is that at the time I believe she only kept me around because she thought that she needed me to write well and I only stayed because I thought I need the writing in order to learn who she really was.
One night the fateful moment came when I gave forth my coveted virginity on paper. I helped construct my very first love scene. The thought of it makes me smile now as well as blush. Looking back, there was such innocence. There existed a naivety that made the experience much like the actual act. The scene was between Rain and an early version of John. She had written it out first and then handed it off to me to look over. I remember reading it and almost feeling appalled. I wasn’t reading about two people making love, I was reading two automatons simulating the act of sex. There was virtually no passion in it the feelings and emotions were lost within the descriptive. For the first time I found myself called to intervene and correct what I saw as a literary injustice. So I asked if I could try and tweak what had been written. She agreed. To be honest I believe this was the first real act of trust we showed towards one another, awkward as it was Cathrine was trusting me to take control and I was trusting that she wouldn’t berate my efforts. This was potentially the moment when the transition from idea women to coauthor began. It was also the beginning of something else between us that I still can’t quite find the right words to adequately explain.
I stayed up all night for that piece. I was determined to finish it before I allowed myself to stop. I will admit I was extremely paranoid about it. I recall refusing to allow Cathrine to see what I’d written until it was done. I assume it was hard for her to give up that small amount of control, the story was hers after all. However I tried to make it quite clear that in this case privacy was necessary. I remember screwing myself up in a ball on the floor, probably against the bed, furiously typing and re-typing. It was difficult for me because for the first time in my life I was tapping into the most personal inner thoughts of my soul. I was forcing myself to slowly peal back the intensely private layers of myself and delve into the deeply rooted passions hidden from the outside world. Funnily enough, I didn’t write from the feminine perspective of Rain. In fact, I don’t really recall altering very much of her actions and reactions. As I’ve said everything was for the most part there and was hidden within the descriptive.
As would become an ongoing habit, I refused to write as Rain in any respect. She was Cathrine’s character and hers alone. So instead I took into consideration the courtesy I would have taken with a woman and the care and consideration I would have tried to undertake when making love to a woman for the first time. I’m sure my naivety and ignorance of such matters at the time would have been obvious if one older and more adept would have looked upon my work then, I was barely fifteen, and yet I think they would have agreed that my depiction was for the most part acurrate. I peered through John’s eyes and played the aggressor. It was so personal for me that I nearly made myself ill with it. I was forcing forth a part of myself that was most painfully personal, my identity. When it was finished, I gave it back to Cathrine. I don’t really remember what her reaction was or if I had summed up what she had been trying to capture. Though I think I can assume with some confidence that I got it mostly right.
I didn’t look upon it again after that. It was just one of those things better left behind. I highly doubt it even exists anymore. Later on I would lose countless bits of my contribution to Cathrine’s project. They would be forcibly kept from me, hidden away, and destroyed out of anger or impulse as time went on. However, those moments of actual creation remain indelibly written in my heart. This was the first of many grand scenarios to come. Some would be more deeply personal then others. All would require a great deal of the private inner parts of myself that I otherwise kept so tightly closed within my grasp. It was a risky thing indeed to leave myself so exposed on the page. I was opening myself up on paper, because I couldn’t do it any other way. I didn’t know how. Slowly and at times recklessly I put forth my greatest fears, weaknesses, and inner most desires. Along with countless elusive sentiments that escaped my own understanding at the time.
Over time I would offer myself up to Cathrine in a torrent of personalities. I would travel the deep, forceful, and at times, still waters that flowed between us. As well as explore the realms of love, lust, and the varied emotions that came with such things. I would grow to love her through the the images that the words we made on the page and I would try to touch her through them in a way I knew I couldn’t in real time and space. We would become two people caught on separate banks of the same river. Waiting for the other to be swept away.