At the Uncon, I guided a session on right brain plotting, which was partly about music, but mostly about collage. A few people have asked about the method since then, and as this is my last post for a bit, I thought this would be a good thing to leave you with. I collage everything, and sometimes pretty elaborately. The collage for Lady Luck’s Map of Vegas was a hat box lit with tiny purple neon lights and came complete with a toy Thunderbird car. (I actually tossed this in a move and have regretted it ever since.)
One of the things quite a few people said was, “If I’d know it was a collage workshop, I wouldn’t have wanted to come, but then I had this insight/experience/recognition.” It’s a great method to let you get out of your head and let the book talk TO you.
Another thing I did for the workshop was play 30 seconds to a minute of a song, then moved to another, through a playlist that was pretty random. You can do the same thing with Spotify or Pandora or even your own bank of songs. Set the program to randomize through a big variety of songs and listen for a minute, then push on to the next. (The playlist I used for this session is here. Thanks to Angela D’Ambrosio for putting it up.)
Without further explanation, the method:
I can’t remember exactly who taught me the fine, messy art of collaging a novel—it was either Jenny Crusie or Susan Wiggs. Pretty sure Susan mentioned it first, but either way, it’s been a part of my process for a long time. Some writers scoff at this process, finding it a waste of time. Maybe some of you fail to see how an art-based project can help you build a book that’s made of words. If you’ve never tried it, however, maybe give it a shot.
The basic process is straight-forward: you use images and other physical or visual materials to create a snapshot of your book. It can be very simple or very complex, and does not require any particular skills or any kind of artistic bent. Jenny, the former art teacher, builds astonishing collages, three dimensional and with all sorts of gadgets and gizmos. Susan builds them of paper board and magazine cut-outs. I fall somewhere in-between.(This was for How to Bake a Perfect Life.)
The product is not the actual point of this exercise. It’s a process tool. Using tactile, visual, or textural materials, you get out of your logical, verbal, methodical left brain and allow the loose, associative right brain to play.
Let me stress again that you do not need artistic talent. You don’t need to create something “beautiful.” [Read more…]