Alex, read your post a few days ago about putting your novel up on the wall. It sounded like a fabulous idea, so I put my novel on the wall, and now I don’t know what to do with it. (Stop laughing!) Really. What do you look for? How do you look at it? Do you read the whole thing? All help much appreciated. Thanks–_________
I guess, think of it like this.
Most of the time the book is just a thought in your head. Sometimes it is a sentence, a page, 200 pages in your computer. But then when you close your file, it becomes the thing in your head again and maybe you even forget what you’ve written.
When you hang it on the wall, it’s right there, what you did. You enter into a longer-term argument, or conversation, with it. You walk by it, you read it, you mark it with a pen, you cross something out, you change your mind. That’s what it is for. It becomes a thing apart from you that you can begin to shape and edit. And you can see, if you have hung it in rows lengthwise, the way it rises and falls a bit like a heartbeat on a monitor, or the edged parts of an earthquake reading. You can see if you’ve forgotten something, you can look for missing scenes.
Most of the way we write now has moved on from being reflective, meditative. Working this way, the noise can go away. You can really think about your book. But also, make it work for you your own way. I’m a very visual person, I need to work like this. I also used to be a poet. You should think about your best ways of working and how it can work for you—after all, when you thought it was a great idea, you had a sense of what it could do—what was that first idea when you thought it was a great idea? Do that, whatever it was you thought of then.