| Angie Counios

Team Work

The idea of the hermit artist is G-O-N-E.

At least that’s my opinion.

I think people have this romantic notion that the creative soul shuts away to create the thing they are working on—the precious magical creation. You know, the tortured artist is in the ‘cave’ trying to push out something innovative and suffering all alone, with no interruptions, and no support.

The artist tosses herself into a frantic frenzy of expression in whatever form she has chosen. Drinking excessively and tapping away on a word processor of the time. Or drinking excessively and tossing paint on a canvas. Or drinking excessively and writing music alone.

Alone. Alone. Drinking. Drinking.

Until they are discovered as a genius. And lucky if she isn't dead or an alcoholic.

The truth is that this idea for me is so far from the truth that it can only be funny. The other truth is that success can come from support, collaboration, and a team.

No one stands up at the Academy Awards when they win and says “I’d like to thank myself” and then walks off. That would be scandalous (and also a little humorous). The winner has a list of thank yous to family and friends, and all those who helped them to that moment. See? A team.

In January, I took a short trip. Thanks to the digital world I was able to stay connected. Dave sent me examples of book cover designs from a graphic artist that I had sketched out before I left. Later, he sent me a message informing me that he’d picked a couple of readers for Part One of our book and that I should think of a couple of readers as well. In a separate conversation we talked about an editor. Dave, me, graphic artist, readers, editor—sounds like a team.

Because I was on my way to see the opera The Tales of Hoffmann on this trip, I began thinking of theater and how many people are required to put on a performance. In a short leap, I connected it to writing. In novel writing there are people to design covers. People to read drafts. People to edit. There are business people. There are publishers. People running websites and blog sites. And there are collaborators. Our writing partners. A whole string of people are necessary to prepare a story for an audience. In script writing, there are producers, and every human on set required to take a script and make it a filmed story for an audience.

Recently, a friend asked for some advice about an apparel business he is trying to get off the ground. After he described his road blocks, the first words out of my mouth were "find a partner." I explained that a partner holds you accountable, motivates you, and carries the weight when you're tired. He's currently looking for a team.

In my teaching career when it’s time to work on professional goals and areas I need to improve on, one box I check off frequently for myself is 'doesn’t work well with others'. I laugh at the phrasing—like it’s a primary school report card. It also implies the opposite of what I am saying here about team work but the truth is I do work well with others, if they work like me, if they are driven, and if we are headed clearly towards a specific goal.

As much as I joke that I struggle to work with others, it's very gratifying and productive to experience creativity through support and collaboration.

Tags: partnership

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