I’m knee-deep in a new book based on my Wild Women Writing Workshop, and just as I’ve done with other projects, I’m using visual images to inspire me.
In this case, I stripped the bulletin board above my writing space of its mini-collages of characters in my novel (the novel has been put in drawer until I finish this project), and filled the space with images of women—some mini-reproductions of famous art, a couple of greeting card images, random clips from magazines, a few postcards, even a picture of me taken way back when I was a Wild Woman apprentice. I included some mementos, a few pins, a Chinese fan, and a wooden bracelet.
I also posted copies of some chapbook covers from previous Wild Women workshops. (We always create a chapbook of some of our writing and hold a public reading at the end of each ten-week workshop).
Certain words speak to me of the tone of the book—authentic, mysterious, erotic, ancient, intuitive, symbolic—and using different fonts, I gave them unique treatment like shadows or reflections, printed them in different colors and added them to what I imagine will be an ever-changing, ever-growing collage.
Does all this playing around with images keep me from doing the actual writing? Actually, it adds a different perspective to the writing. It’s part play, part process, and it gives me another way to look at what I want to say in the book. Plus, working with a different medium is a terrific anxiety reliever. Sometimes during the arranging and posting and digging through various collections of “stuff,” a solution to a problem in the writing will come to me or an exciting idea will appear that I swear I never would have thought of, arm-wrestling words to the page.
I’ve used mini-collages often in exploring characters and settings in my novels. I find that working with images “shows” me aspects I didn’t know before. Sometimes, when I’m writing a personal narrative, I’ll use photographs of people or places as references or inspiration. My Wild Woman bulletin board collage keeps the project alive even when I’m not working at my desk. Those women are always there, making their presence known, filling the space with an lively, creative energy.
What about you? Do you use visual art as part of your writing process?