10 September 2012 by Published in: Research and Writing 3 comments

People occasionally ask me why I have been involved in so many collaborations over the course of my writing career. I’ve done two different books with my good friend J.D. Petruzzi (one of which also included our friend Mike Nugent). Michael Aubrecht, and we have two more books in the works (one on baseball and one on football) that we’re going to do together. I recently announced an upcoming collaboration with Prof. Brooks D. Simpson on the role of future President James A. Garfield in the Civil War. I’ve also got collaborations in the works with old friend Scott Mingus, Sr. on the Second Battle of Winchester, and one with yet another old friend, Scott C. Patchan, on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

This is a lot of collaborative work on a wide variety of subjects. And that’s my entire list of pending projects at the moment, and all are collaborations. Why is that? That’s a reasonable question.

There are a variety of reasons.

First, and foremost, I am not a professional historian. I’m an amateur. That gives me the luxury of working only on those projects that I want to work on, and none that I have to work on. The truth is that I have always written about what interests me. If others find those things interesting, all the better. But when I choose a topic/project, it’s because it’s what I find interesting. So, this means that I have no “publish or perish” issue to contend with. Fortunately, my friends often share an interest in those subjects, which is what makes the collaboration possible.

Second, I thoroughly enjoy the give-and-take of collaborating with a friend. I find it to be both stimulating and fun. And it gives me a new way of interacting with someone whose opinions and intellect I respect and admire.

Third, I find that the old cliche that “two heads are better than one” is absolutely a true statement. One of the beautiful things about working with these accomplished historians is that I get to discuss/debate/hash out a lot of interesting issues with people whose opinions I respect a great deal. I enjoy that immensely. And hopefully that process leads to better history.

Fourth, with 17 books in print and a couple of significant awards on the mantle, I have proven that I can research and write a decent Civil War history book. It means that I’ve earned my spurs and now have some credibility as a result. Because I do this for fun, I don’t have to write another word for the rest of my life if I choose not to, and if I never write another word, I will still be the proud author of a large body of work that people seem to like. This gives me the luxury of picking and choosing what I want to do and with whom I do it. It’s entirely possible that I may not do another solo project again the rest of my life, and if I do, it will be because something appeals to me enough to get me to invest the money, time, and effort required to write one of these books as a solo project.As I sit here now, I cannot predict whether that will happen.

So, that’s the answer as to why I’m involved in so many collaborations. For those of you who enjoy my historical work and are interested in it, please don’t be surprised by the number of collaborations that will be forthcoming, or by the lack of solo projects. And I hope that you enjoy all of those collaborations.

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  1. Dennis
    Tue 11th Sep 2012 at 4:47 am

    An excellent approach! There is probably nothing better than knowing you only have to do what you want to do and not what you have to do. I believe that feeling shows in and is responsible for the high quality and enjoyment value in your writing as well.


  2. dan
    Thu 13th Sep 2012 at 10:55 am

    Did someone help you write this post?

  3. Mike Maude
    Fri 14th Sep 2012 at 7:14 pm

    I hope your collaboration with JD for the third volume of the Gettysburg trilogy is still in the works.

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