Fast Company

Corey’s Book: From the Writer’s Perspective

Hello! I’m the third member of Corey’s book-writing, storytelling, epiphany-creating team—Katie, the writer. Corey has asked me to contribute one blog per week describing our unique process from my point of view, and I’m happy to do it. The truth is that, to many, the writing part of this equation is quite mysterious. I’d like to shine some light. But, first, a little history.

Corey and I have been collaborating on projects since fall of 2007. That was when he hired me to proofread Robert Renteria’s wonderful book, From the Barrio to the Board Room. Because of the subject, Robert and Corey specifically wanted feedback from a Latino or Latina editor. I fit this bill, and I was also thrilled to work with and support a project—a cause—by a fellow Latino. That brief project (the proofreading took maybe two weeks) quickly parlayed into dozens of small assignments and several large ones, including writing two books with The Table. In the last two years, Corey and I have established mutual respect and trust. He’s one of the most fun and brilliant people I’ve had the pleasure of working with!

Now for his book: He approached me several months ago about the possibility of co-writing his own book, his own story. This is a big deal. For a guy who spends his life helping others tell their stories, and championing those tales to the world, telling his own was never going to be a light undertaking. I knew he’d give the process the same dedication and fire he brings out in his clients, and I was honored and excited to be a part of it.

My calls with Corey and Annie are different every week. Mostly, I listen as Annie leads Corey into telling the stories that compel him most in that moment. Sometimes I’ll ask questions, if the answers won’t get too tangential; otherwise, I’ll bite my need for detail back and insert those questions in the manuscripts I send Corey each week. But the cool thing in these calls is that they’re rarely what any of us expect. The only real structure is a deliberate unstructure, a kind of stream-of-consciousness storytelling that Annie always maintains invisible hold over. Because we’re all creative people and we’ve all been a part of this process before, we’re rarely bothered by the seeming lack of concrete goals; instead, we enjoy the stories and realizations that are made this way. Of course, there are times when we feel we’ve gone off track, even if we haven’t, but we trust in our process and our guide.

Here’s where I’d like to talk about the writing—but this post is long already! So I think I’ll leave you hanging here, but next week, come back to see what new discoveries we’ve made, and what it’s like to translate oral storytelling to the written word . . . and all the beautiful complications that arise in the process!

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