My sister Amy and I are both writers. She’s a real writer. She got her MFA in Creative Writing. She writes amazing stories and has skills I only fantasize about. I write a blog that started as a promotion for my business but turned into something more personal and revelatory. We both write all the time.
Until recently, we never talked about the fact that we both write. We were raised in a family of three girls, twins, and a younger one less than two years later. In our house there was never enough attention for any of us so we hoarded our individuality, keeping our secret skills and passions away from each other for fear that they would be taken over by one of the other sisters.
It is only in hindsight that I can see how gripping so tightly to our individual, very separate identities kept us from really knowing each other on a deeper level. It’s been a gift to get to know my sisters for who they are in adulthood. Now that we are no longer doing backflips for attention, we can simply become ourselves.
I am one of the twins, the eldest by thirteen minutes. Recently my younger writer sister Amy and I collaborated on a video project for our mother who was turning eighty. As the younger sister, Amy has the curse of not being taken as seriously. I have no idea what it feels like to be in Amy’s role, but I do know that as the slightly eldest, I was often in the position of ignoring Amy’s ideas simply because she was the youngest and I was the oldest.
It was Amy’s idea to get birthday messages from people spanning my mother’s long life history. When she shared her plan with me I immediately loved it. I asked her how I could help and she was totally open to doing it together. That was the first step.
We started early, in October, for her January birthday. Amy was in charge of sleuthing out long-lost friends and contacting them. It was my job to piece together the clips and make them into a video for Mom.
During those three months working together Amy and I, who live in different cities and different time zones, talked several times a day. We FaceTimed and screen shared. We sent files back and forth multiple times. At one point my computer crashed and we had to start from scratch. Amy had to contact several people to resend their video clips and I had to borrow a computer to complete the project. In the end, there were over eighty-five individual birthday messages in a nearly hour-long extended birthday message for our mother. Our collaboration was a major success.
In the process of doing this video project, Amy and I learned that we work really well together. We had so much fun bantering in only the way sisters can. And we fell naturally into our roles using our specific strengths together toward a common goal.
In the process of creating this video project, Amy and I began to talk about our writing. We both write on Medium and a few other platforms and, though we’d each been doing it for years, we had never discussed it. We had never even read each other’s writing.
We write very different things. Amy is wildly funny and creative. I am more contemplative and proccess-y. And, we are both like the other sometimes. We started reading each other’s writing, then praising each other’s writing, then talking about how to support and promote each other’s writing.
Had we been teenagers, we might be talking about forming a girl band or a funny t-shirt business. We were so psyched, so pumped to be doing this thing writing thing together. We’ve continued to talk every day, sometimes multiple times.
We talked about it recently, how the video project opened up this opportunity to share something and not see it as competing for attention. It feels good, to have this kind of sisterhood where we support one another, egg each other on, and celebrate each other. We talk about doing a project together, some kind of writing. We don’t know what it looks like yet. It doesn’t really matter. It just feels good to be sisters.