We all imagine writing to be a solitary pursuit: one writer, sitting alone for hours on end, burning through their creativity with only their family pets to offer comfort and support. Sure, there are moments just like that. A lot of moments, in fact. But that's only part of the writing process, because writers can't do it all by themselves.
For me, the collaboration starts when I finish a draft of a novel ( or a picture book) and am ready for some outside feedback. I email it off to one of my trusty readers. After they get back to me, I revise more and send it to my next partner in crime, my agent Scott.
Sometimes he and I go back and forth a couple of times before he deems something ready to be sent off to an editor. For my first two novels, and now for my next two, that editor is Liz. And what we do is true collaboration.
Yes, I've got the story written. My characters and plot and suspense are all there. But they aren't ready yet. Not by a long shot. For The Compound, Liz and I worked for about 18 months shaping that manuscript until it was ready. Happily, The Gardener took half that amount of time, simply because of things I learned from her on the first novel. My hopes are that my two subsequent novels will take even less editorial revision time. But I always look forward to her having a hand in my work, because, despite all my alone time as a writer, I can't do it alone.