Writers’ BBS: “Between Books” Syndrome

When I took his workshop on the novel at Centrum Writers’ Conference, Michael D. Collins shared an antidote to the dread BBS. The tincture continues to work for me (for short as well as longer pieces). Keep in mind that my best starts come from the organic rather than the structured side of the spectrum.

Collins begins with what he terms “islands of fiction”–writing into an image or a thought, no particular plan in mind. Not a “forever” commitment. He is searching for a voice that will hold him for three hundred pages. By the time he moves to hammering out a draft, he might have (get this!) about 100 pages of writing. Non-linear to be sure, but still; pages. Without the God-awful trying.

Get cracking, amigos.

PS. This thought generated by a question on this helpful publishing blog.

Author: allehall

I am a writer. I write to explore childhood: literary essays and short fiction, journalism, and three haiku. My published work expresses my belief that everything which did or did not happen to me as a child is manifesting in everything that is or is not happening to me today. More importantly, it is also manifesting for my children. I believe funny is the new navel-gazing, and that the best funny keeps a penny's worth of serious in an accessible pocket. Little-known fact: I have a completed novel decorating the inside of a desk drawer. Perhaps it is not funny enough.

2 thoughts on “Writers’ BBS: “Between Books” Syndrome”

  1. If I feel blocked, I’ll get goofy — write passages that are wacky and out of sync, but that maintain some sort of connection to the “serious” work. The silly stuff often helps me generate the ideas or solutions I needed to move forward.

    1. Dear Mr. Dickens,

      Goofy is never bad.

      Back in 2003, I heard the original Warrior Woman herself, Maxine Hong Kingston, speaking in promotion of her doorstep of a book–419 pages–The Fifth Book of Peace. It took years to write, of course. She then re-wrote it when her house burned down, leaving nothing but a few pieces of blackened jade, the burnt structure of a chimney, and a pile of 416 pages of ash. There is a point to all this: as she staggered through the re-write, she would take breaks to write poetry. She claimed she did so because she was convinced poets were happy people, tra la la, who created happy little poems.

      I do the same with housework. (That raucous laughter you are hearing? My husband.) When I run aground, I clean dishes or scrub the counter top. Luckily for me, I hate housework. I hate it so much that I’d rather write directly into block–imagine that little ship going up up up the monster wave that capsizes it, sending George Clooney, John C. Riley, and Marky-Mark’s fabulous chest to Davy Jones’ below. On a good day, I only have to think about housework, and ideas start popping.

      Not so nice for the housework.

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