I can’t believe it’s already September! Summer has been a time for creativity, writing verse, writing content for a new video series, and for close collaboration with the illustrator Karen Hanke. Having completed the charming drawings of the African animals in “Imagination Nation,” Karen now is now refining the artwork for another mini-picture book, “Michael’s Soccer Triumph”. At this afternoon’s development meeting–on the patio of the local Starbuck’s, as usual–over and over I found myself standing up from my chair and demonstrating soccer maneuvers to help her make the action drawings all the more authentic: how players warm up by dribbling around orange cones, how defenders “mark” opposing strikers, even how parents blast their noise maker horns after their kid’s team scores a goal. It was a lot to digest for an illustrator who never actually played soccer but who is nevertheless doing an excellent job creating the soccer pictures. Through creative collaboration, all things seem possible; I, who can’t draw my way out of a paper bag, can offer pointers about the game, and Karen can convincingly portray a game that will resonate even with ardent fans.
Another creative collaboration in progress: Dan Gilbert, a graphic designer who will design slides for my upcoming literacy videos, introduced me to Google Share, a way for two or more people to discuss designs in progress while looking at the same things on their respective computer screens. Physically, we may be across town or across the world from each other, but with this nifty technology collaboration is that much easier. In fact, Dan tells me that his closest collaborator lives 3,000 miles away in North Carolina. Each day, they log on, examine designs in progress, and either one can alter the work while exploring revisions: “How about if we do this? Or move this around like this?” Whether at coffee houses or via new-fangled technology, creative collaboration really seems all the rage. No wonder collaboration is stressed by Common Core. The trick, I think, for getting the most good out of collaboration, is to also allow time for creative types to do work separately and alone, then use collaboration to review and revise.