Writing Challenges in Black and White

Posted March 31st, 2011 by

It’s late on Thursday night. I’m up alone. Sharon is asleep.

When I wrote Inheriting the Trade the biggest challenge I faced was finding the time. With Gather at the Table, the challenge is working with my partner.

Don’t get me wrong. I love working with Sharon Morgan. We work well together. We challenge each other. We “push” each others “buttons.” This “black and white” thing is a challenge. Yet we’ve been working together for going on two years now without a major blowout. So something must be going right with this project, eh?

The challenge isn’t being together. The challenge is being apart.

I live in Oregon. Sharon lives in New York. Passing chapters back and forth is easy enough by email, but talking through the major issues and the smaller thoughts–each sentence–ain’t so easy from 3,000 miles apart.

I’m now gratefully wrapping up a full week of staying at Sharon’s house. We’ve spent all day–every day–writing. What a treat to pause in the middle of a paragraph and be able to say, “Hey Sharon, what do you mean by…” and for her to do the same with me.

The ability to sit side-by-side at her dining room table–dueling laptops flying–and walk through a chapter, sentence by sentence, simply can’t be duplicated with a cell phone conference call. I sort of dread Sunday when I’ll catch a train back to New York City, on my way to Detroit, knowing that the magic of working together this week will disappear (at least for now). As much as we hoped to accomplish… we didn’t accomplish all we hoped to. And yet, I also love the fact that I’ll rejoin my godson Adrian in Queens on Sunday for a day of play… yet this book will not write itself.

Future opportunities will present themselves. Sharon and I will soon embark on a 5,000 mile, 15-state road trip of research and discovery through the South and Midwest. Laptops ablaze, we’ll speed across America in search of racial healing and we will write about it.

We’ll let you know how it goes.

5 responses to “Writing Challenges in Black and White”

  1. Juanita Brown says:

    Dear Tom,

    Looking forward to walking this journey with Sharon and you.

    Cheering you on,

  2. Barbara St. Romain says:

    Much good luck on your road trip. If Lafayette, Louisiana is on your itinerary, you are welcome to some Southern hospitality at my home. I almost met your cousin (I believe) Holly Fulton in New Orleans recently but we had to settle for a phone conversation due to mismatched schedules. I hope to see your movie and read your books soon and am glad you will post us on your trip.


  3. Willene Sprinkle Lew says:

    Tom & Sharon,

    Looking forward, and quite giddy to hear all about, read, and see the journey, that will lead the way. Your path is clear, onward!

    Warmest Regards,


  4. Dedan Gills says:

    Sounds like the two of you are covering uncharted territory with the grace of gazelle's can't wait to see the final product. I can almost feel the power and immensity of the conversations that the two of you must be having.

  5. Mollyavalon says:

    I collaborate with someone who lives in another city. He and I keep our IM windows open, so if I see that he's online I can just send a quick message. We have back and forth stuff (which in your case could included pasted bits – "Should we say it this way?"). If the IM gets too complex, we call. And if you don't have headsets, well, get 'em!

    I think this is a totally cool project!

    Geekily yours, Mary

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge