Star Trek

Writer’s Workshops and The Trouble with Tribbles

Tribbles, as many people know, were – are? – an alien species humans found oddly compelling. They trilled or purred sweetly. They were soft and cuddly. They made humans feel happy. The trouble with Tribbles was how rapidly they reproduced. Suddenly these precious fluffy purring things were everywhere, including the engine of the Starship Enterprise!

Too many tribbles spoiled the inner workings, distracted people from their jobs and basically caused chaos in an otherwise well-run system. Of course, in the end, the Tribbles saved the day. Yes, many of them sacrificed their lives to do so, but without them, the poisoned grain would not have been discovered and people would have died.

What do tribbles have to do with writer’s workshops? Everything.

Workshops, to the writer, are as appealing and irresistible as Tribbles were to the crew of the Enterprise.  While Tribbles gave physical comfort with their soft fuzzy bodies and sweet cooing, workshops give emotional comfort with their promise of clarity and focus. Writers flock to them – especially THIS writer. Paying with cash and time. Investing creative energy into new methods to develop characters, plot and theme, as well as new ways to see each.

The trouble with workshops, like Tribbles, is they way they multiply. The way the lectures pile up until there are mounds of them – mostly filled with phenomenal advice about the writing craft. The trouble with workshops, like Tribbles, is their allure.

And so, despite the distraction of Tribbles and workshops, I simply cannot resist their pull. And I, clearly, will not even try.

Resistance is futile.


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