Betsey’s Collage

Posted by on Jun 25, 2012 in Art & Letters, The Typewriter Girl | 9 comments

As an Argh Ink reader, I’d admired the book col­lages Jen­nifer Crusie posted there, but resisted doing one myself. After all, I’d had a rather stress­ful expe­ri­ence at one of those scrap­book home sales par­ties. At the end of the evening, every­one else had orders placed and cute lay­outs all done, while I had an arch­i­pel­ago of loose pho­tos and scrap paper strewn across the host’s cof­fee table because I couldn’t give myself per­mis­sion to take short­cuts with pre-made templates.

Thus, a book col­lage seemed like some­thing that would cost me writ­ing time rather than make me more pro­duc­tive. But then I ended up in one of Jenny’s col­lage work­shops, and that’s where the col­lage you see here happened.

Sort of. What I made at first was so rough that I almost didn’t bother to lug it home. I made it mainly in the com­mu­nity spirit of the work­shop, and with a reminder to myself that with the time and tools avail­able, I wouldn’t be able to make it “per­fect.” In other words, I gave myself per­mis­sion to have fun and make some­thing ugly. In other-other words, my inner critic was not invited.

I rebuilt the col­lage as I was rebuild­ing the story in a revi­sion. I remem­ber think­ing at one point, “This doesn’t have every­thing from the book yet, but it feels done.” Hm. I quit work­ing on it.

That turned out to be what I like about this col­lage: the heart of the story is in it. After a sub­stan­tial rewrite for my agent, I looked back at it and real­ized that for all the axing and adding, rear­rang­ing and recast­ing, every sin­gle thing rep­re­sented in the col­lage was still in the story.

Two com­mon ques­tions I get about it: What does “GOOD BETSEY” mean? and Did the cover artist use it?

1) That’s my name for THE TYPEWRITER GIRL. And yes, I knew what a bad title it was the moment it appeared. Still, when some­one tells you her name, you don’t say, “Are you sure?” You just say, “Nice to meet you, Good Betsey.”

2) I have no idea. I don’t think so. I sent the col­lage along in a batch of other pic­tures, but there’s noth­ing to sug­gest it inspired the cover artist in any par­tic­u­lar way. And The Type­writer Girl’s cover is so lovely, I don’t think the artist needed any help from me.

Oh, have you seen the cover? It really is awfully lovely, isn’t it? Here, have another look:



Thanks for drop­ping by.

Links for this post:

Argh Ink: Jen­nifer Crusie’s blog

A moment of squee: what Jenny said about Betsey’s collage

 Sto­ry­wonk pod­cast: authors Lani Diane Rich (Lucy March)   and Alas­tair Stephens dis­cuss col­lage for writers.


  1. Ali­son! That col­lage is GORGEOUS, and I remem­ber that method when Jenny first posted it last year. Just beau­ti­ful! And your cover is amaz­ing; the pub­lisher REALLY did right by you. I have to say, I kind of loved “Good Bet­sey” as the title, but “The Type­writer Girl” is great, too. Con­grat­u­la­tions! When you have time, can you share your note-taking method? Do you print all of it out, or do it in Curio or some other dig­i­tal for­mat? I’m really inter­ested in that process, and would love to read more about how you do it.

    Beau­ti­ful, won­der­ful, lovely. Can’t wait to read the book!

    • Thank you, Lani! I’m so excited you came by! Yes, I’ll write some­thing up about my notes and let you know when it posts. I used Curio quite a bit for The Type­writer Girl. I’ve used it less since I dis­cov­ered Scrivener, but it is so pow­er­ful for col­lect­ing images and web sources.

      Lis­tened to the audio­book of “A Lit­tle Night Magic” recently–made a long drive fun, and I’m always on the look­out now for sparkly floor tiles for wish­ing on…

  2. That’s really lovely and so cre­ative. All I’ve got to show for Sum­mer­set Abbey, is my mon­i­tor cov­ered in post it notes!

    • Oh, Teri, my desk and mon­i­tor are always a clut­ter of post it notes, too. How did writ­ers sur­vive before they came along?

      I’ve got Sum­mer­set Abbey in my TBR–it will be my treat when I get through the release mad­ness. Look­ing for­ward to it!

  3. I just fin­ished read­ing the type­writer girl. It was so beau­ti­ful. What a strong, for­ward think­ing char­ac­ter Bet­sey was. She and John jumped off the page! I can­not wait for your next book. Elyse

    • Elyse, it’s so kind of you to take the time to come let me know that! I’m delighted you enjoyed the book, and you cer­tainly made my day!

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