Sometimes, as a writer, it’s really helpful to look to other art forms for inspiration. I love reading about artists’ process. There is always something to learn or enjoy. I was recently inspired by the Matisse exhibition at Tate Modern, particularly seeing film and photographs of the artist pinning all his shapes up on the wall so that he could play around with them, constantly swapping them over, until he had settled on the final position for each work.
I know some writers use software to play around with structure and try out different possible orderings, but I am still fond of crawling around the floor with pieces of card and sheets of handwritten paper. I like to be able to see it all in one go – even if that means standing up on a chair to survey the collage of scraps spread out on the rug.
Last week, I visited the Great Electronic Art Show at Woking’s Lightbox studio. Playing around with shapes and light was another inspiration. Coming back to my desk this week, I realised that the order of the first few chapters of my novel was not quite right and I have just given them a shake up. The joy – and the frustration – of the drafting process is that nothing needs to be fixed. Sometimes, it is worth messing up all the pieces and laying them out again.
But then there comes a point when you have to decide that this is the final order, the fixed shape. The thing is done.