When it comes to collaborative writing, I have seen the mountaintop

If anyone will appreciate a recent experience I had with collaborative writing, it will be you. When a dying Army lieutenant colonel came to me this summer for help with a memoir, I gave him a stiff arm:

“I am not a ghostwriter,” I lectured Mark Weber (who hadn’t asked for a ghostwriter). “I believe in the deep connection between thoughts and words. Your thoughts must start with your own words.”

Furthermore, I told him the book contained clichés that an editor would have to cut out “like tumors, painfully” and familiar phrases that would have to be “lanced, like benign polyps.”

Finally, I told him I doubted he had the energy or the time left to do the kind of rewrite I was demanding.

Now that, my friends, is how you treat a terminal cancer patient.

“I love it, David,” Weber replied.

In the Huffington Post I tell how the project played out from there. I explain why I’m mourning its end because a project this good might never come again. And I indicate that Tell My Sons, the memoir Weber and I made together, is available for purchase now. (It’s cliché free, and it makes a great holiday gift.) —DM

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