Author Note on Til Death Do Us Part?

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Co-authored with John Strickland. Previously Unpublished

JOHN STRICKLAND was a co-worker who was also a writer, mentor and friend while I was employed as a theatre technician at Carleton University's Theatre Operations department in Ottawa. While it's been years since we've worked together or lived in the same city, I am fortunate enough to still count John as a mentor and a friend.

Back when I was still living in Ottawa, and still a single man with a lot of time on my hands, I would long for those rare stretches of time when John could get a "bachelor" day - in other words, when his wife, Renata, was out for the day visiting friends or family or running errands solo. On these "bachelor" days, John and I would get together and talk writing over a pot of coffee. Whenever the stretches of time were long enough, we'd try to create a story in "tag team" fashion.

With the pot of coffee and the word processor ready, John and I would take turns at the keyboard, each writing a paragraph or two, continuing on a round-robin type of story. We wouldn't discuss the tale; just tap the guy on the shoulder and say "your turn" whenever we got to a point that felt right. The one not writing would be relegated to another room listening to a classical music CD or CBC radio with a book in hand. When the story reached a mutually agreed upon point, we'd stop the changeover and read what we had written so far. Then we'd sit somewhere like on the back deck, with more coffee in hand, discuss the characters, the story's direction and decide on the story's plotline and resolution. Then we'd hammer out the ending and work together on a re-write.

Call me a writing nerd, but, short of spending a relaxing afternoon by the pool with my wife Francine, this is one of my favourite ways to spend an afternoon.

One of the things that I like best about writing with John is that, even now, when I look back on the stories we've written this way, I can't remember which of us wrote what scene. Our writing styles seem to have meshed wonderfully. I say this merely to elevate my view of my own writing, as John is an extremely talented writer.

John hasn't been actively writing since his daughter Emma was born in the mid 1990's, (so his writing is going to be relatively hard to find, at least for now) but I still hold every tale I write up to the "John Strickland" metre to see if it's any good. And I still try to do my mentor proud.



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