BY MINDI SCOTT
When I was a kid, I had a tendency to want every play session with my sister to have a purpose and follow a set story line. Even if it was something simple like “Barbie and Ken Go To Prom and Jealous Whitney Tries to Steal Ken Away” or “The My Little Ponies Travel from the Bookcase to the Hallway In Search of Their Runaway Orphan Pony Friend,” there was always certain dialogue and action required to make our story worth telling.
Since I was the oldest and clearly the best qualified to come up with ideas, I was constantly directing. “Okay,” I’d say. “Now you need to have your girl say, ‘But I saw Ken first! He should be my boyfriend!'”
She’d parrot my words, but often not quite the way I’d wanted her to say them. Sigh, sigh!
Earlier this year, I told my sister that Michelle and I were going to write a book together, and she said, “Oh. She really wants to do that?”
I was like, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Well. You’re kind of bossy about stuff like that. You wouldn’t even let me choose what my own Barbies would say when I was kid.”
To which I responded, “That was over twenty years ago! And you know that you only would have had your Barbies to say stupid stuff without my help!”
Kidding with that last part! (I mean, I’m not kidding that I said that; I just said it in a kidding way and then we laughed. See???)
The truth is, despite my sister’s claims to the contrary during every discussion we’ve about Barbies for the past couple of decades, I’d always thought of myself as flexible and easygoing and all of those other great things until I read this on Miss Snark’s blog back in 2006:
[It’s] my experience that people who feel the need to tell you what they are like [… ] are by and large the very ones who ain’t. […] Almost to the last one, every person who has said “I’m very easy to work with” has been a total PITA.
After I figured out that PITA = Pain In The Ass, I decided that Miss Snark was wrong. I mean, I was definitely easy to work with! I put up with other people’s crap all the time! Just ask me if I was easy to work with and I’d be glad to tell you all about it!
But the words in that blog post kept nagging at me. Over time, it changed how I saw myself. It made me decide that I want to be a person who actually is easy to work with instead of one who just believes she is.
In this process of co-writing with Michelle, I’m careful to never tell her what to write. I love having discussions and sharing my ideas, but I do everything that I can to make it clear that my suggestions are just that–suggestions. The words in her chapters have to truly be hers. Otherwise, why would we even bother undertaking something like this together, you know?
Now, if Michelle and I ever were to play Barbies together, all bets might be off. But who knows! People can change, right? 😉