Over the years I've worked (creatively) with a lot of different types of people. The older and crankier I get, the less I want to work with anyone.
But there is a reasonable explanation .... if you're open to my interpretation of reason.
We all have our ideals. I'm not entirely sure how mine were shaped, but I always had a vision for what creative collaboration would look like. Everything I did in years past was in pursuit of that idealized vision, to the point that I was shouldering an unreasonable burden to craft collaborative video with friends on YouTube.
I think I can mark the slow-motion shattering of that vision when I started working professional creative jobs -- and this isn't meant to diminish past or current colleagues, but to point out how creativity operates on different levels and feeding the Creative Beast just isn't something everyone is equipped to do.
Every time I started working with a new group of people, professionally, I went in with these lofty expectations of collaboration that were slowly whittled away. There were positive highlights, of course: I love being able to inspire creativity in others. I love getting a chance to teach a technical aspect of something (video editing technique). I love encouraging those who have a passion learn.
In other words, I'm rather good at (and enjoy) feeding other peoples' Creative Beasts.
The exchange is rarely mutual, though. I look out for my personal Beast and feed it accordingly, but I don't often see it being fed through collaboration.
So after awhile, that idealized vision of creative collaboration fades away. I even got to a point where, if a project required outside help, I'd skip it all together and do something that I would have full 100% control over. It just wasn't worth involving other people only to be let down ... and see your project or art suffer for it.
This is a sustainable path, but the positive (only needing to rely on yourself to create) can easily become a negative when there's no one else around to motivate you. And creativity itself thrives in conflict and the exchange of ideas -- being a jack-of-all-trades solo artist often means you have to find ways to compensate for that.
It's not all hopeless, however, on either front. I've been lucky enough to see a few flickers of honest and genuine collaboration and it's something I'm eager to add to my creative toolbox.
Here's my new idealized view of creative collaboration:
Great collaborators inspire each other. It's that exchange of conflict and ideas that creativity likes to thrive.
My best collaborations happen when I'm challenged to do something different, new, or better. Homeostasis is the opposite of creativity, so challenging the norm -- whether or not that may seem productive -- has to be a fundamental rule of collaboration.
Without honesty, you have no trust. Without trust, how can you ever know if your collaborator has anything of value to contribute?
Stay creative ... and happy collaborations.