What would you do if the world ends?
What for us started as a hypothetical question turned into a six-year odyssey we called “Meet Me at the Falls.”
One night back in 2012, we sat around the table together and each wrote a very rough version of the same short story idea in our notebooks. What we didn't know at the time was that we had each just created the members of the Murphy family on the start of their final journey. Nor did we know it was just the first part of what would become a five-section novel. What we did know was that we had something special. A unique opportunity for three authors to write one story together.
But how exactly do three authors write the same story?!
We started with each of us taking on a character—following their respective journeys to whatever end. Before we set out on each section, we would meet to discuss rough ideas, but we always wrote in secret. Never telling each other what exactly we came up with until it was ready to read. Once we had a rough draft, we would share them with each other.
And that's how we worked.
It was thrilling to see where our stories had similar threads and where they diverged wildly. It wasn't always easy making the story cohesive and more than once we had very different ideas of who these characters were and what they should go through.
We were also each other’s first editors, often bringing fierce debate to the table over what should happen, who these characters were. In the end, the best ideas always won out, and we felt no shame in rewriting each other’s work. It was the only way to truly work together.
Even this afterword went through the same process.
Something interesting we discovered along the way was how well we functioned as a writing team. Often times it's hard for ‘creatives’ to work together on a project. Our secret for success was that we each brought a unique strength to the team.
The best part of the process was being able to get inside each other's heads. We have spent countless hours talking writing and learning from each other as much as we could.
By the time we finished each section, no one chapter could truthfully be claimed by any of us. It had become something we shared. A harmony of three different voices. It was truly a labor of love that we feel embodies the voice our friendship.
One of our earliest ideas was to actually meet at Snoqualmie Falls to write the final part of the story. When the Murphys arrived there, so should we.
For those of you who have made it this far and followed the journey with us, you'll be pleased to hear that part five was conceived and written at the lodge in Snoqualmie Falls.
For years we had written about a place that, truth be told, we had never actually been. To actually set foot where our story was happening, where we knew the Murphy family would finally meet, was nothing short of surreal. It was like stepping into a dream, and we couldn't shake off that feeling. We stood along the banks of the Snoqualmie River, envisioning the end of our journey in silent reverence.
That trip ended up becoming one of the greatest experiences of our lives, teaching us a very valuable lesson: Goddamn do we love traveling together. It’s quickly become a necessary part of our process, and we have no plans of slowing down any time soon. Our travels have become our own form of a writer’s retreat. Crucial opportunities to find inspiration and discuss the kernels of our next story together.
We loved telling this story. But more importantly we loved telling it together. We can't thank you enough for reading it. It has been a way for three friends who live in three different places to all stay in touch with one another. To collaborate. To travel. To make each other better. Though this story is done, it is only the beginning of our continued adventures.
Stay tuned for more, and thank you for reading our story.
Ben, Zack & John
“The Burgundy Scoundrels”