The Monday Street Collage: More Progress

Since I posted the beginning of the collage, I thought you might like to see the progress. Actually, I thought, “I need a blog post and I have a picture of the collage,” but seeing the progress is also a factor. Again, this is just visual note-taking to keep me in the book; nothing here is set in stone, it can all change, but the stuff that happens in my brain while I’m doing this is so valuable that I don’t care how much stuff I rip off and move around or how messy it is. Not an artwork, a visual notebook. And here’s where I am now . . .

Added paper, pictures, objects, color, and found out a lot more about the story.
Added paper, pictures, objects, color, and found out a lot more about the story.

32 thoughts on “The Monday Street Collage: More Progress

  1. This is gorgeous. So, you’re building the story in your mind as you build the collage? I’m almost finished with the rough draft of the WIP and for once I haven’t done a collage. Maybe I should do that before starting the rewrite. I’d be sure to find out if I’d glossed over any thing. Hmmmm. Now where are my magazines, scissors, glue, paper…?

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    1. It’s more an association process. I find pictures, patterns, whatever and cut them out and as I combine them I see new things. Toni’s got a pinterest board going, and that’s fun, too.

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  2. This looks great, Jenny! But if I had that in my house, I’d be tempted to bring out my very old childhood toys. Weebles in the collage house wouldn’t propel the story.

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    1. LOL, why not, if your characters were super-resilent? I often think I should drag out my kids’ old Barbies and stage some of my dramas. (Not enough Ken dolls, though, and I’d probably get side-tracked on the costumes.)

      Since I’m commenting anyway, I love this. I adore gingerbread, and think both houses and stories should have some. (or is my crappy vision playing tricks on me? I think that’s gingerbread . . . .) Did you know you can hook curtains on gingerbread? It *can* be functional.

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  3. You take collage to a whole ‘nuther level. I should do a big-ass one like this as a classroom activity! Maybe it’ll unlock learning for the children.

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    1. The key would be to talk about while they did it. Make a jungle and ask why they’re putting that plant there and what happens when you put those two animals together. Or whatever. It’s the process that makes you creative, not the product.

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  4. Oh, does this look like a book I want to read!
    Although the first thing that jumped out at me is that it has no green.

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    1. The collage certainly gives me another reason to want to read the book, but the craftswomanship of it alone is lovely. Truly, Jenny. The era its set in fascinates me as well. The history all over the world at that time is riveting but for our country, particularly. At least in my opinion. There was a peculiar darkness to the time.

      I’m excited to read about Cat – a Crusie heroine of 1910. I’m very much looking forward to it.

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      1. Just observing! Trying to figure out the mood by color cues. The whole process fascinates me. You taught collage at a workshop I attended, and I’ve been amazed at how much it produces.

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        1. Oh, you’re right, color is key. I have huge stacks of scrapbook paper and I go through them and pull out things that look like the book. I think all the ochres and reds are a reflection of me trying to get 1910 into the collage, but also because I wanted warmth in there. Most of my stories in the collaboration are set on this one dangerous street in the worst part of the city, but I wanted to show that the people there had established safe places, that the crime boss running that part of the town was keeping it clean, that the businesses had relationships to each other. The two ends of the collage were mostly blank because Krissie gets one end and Toni the other, but after Toni put a Warehouse at the end of the street, I’ve build that in. And on the other side of the Warehouse is Toni’s wilderness, so that’s all green, but she can collage that. Not sure what Krissie will want. All I know for right now is that her girl works in the stable, so I’ll be building a stable down there.

          But yes, color is key.

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  5. This is a fascinating process. Maybe I should try this to unlock my muse. (Or maybe I should just write the book I really want to write and put the one my agent thinks I should write on the back burner.) How long do you spend working on your collage? Do you sit down at one time during the day and work on it, or do you go back to it here and there whenever you come across something that should go inside?

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    1. Once I get the basics down, I just stick something one whenever I come across it while writing. The collage gets this far, I start dreaming about the characters, and I start writing.

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  6. Hello,
    I’ve been reading this blog for over a year now, but commenting for the first time. I’ve read most of the Crusie books, and I must say how fascinating your writing process is Ms. Crusie. Writing always seemed like a random “creative” process when I was growing up. I always imagined authors simply sitting down and coming up with the story. After keeping up with your blog for over a year, I must say how amazed I am at how structured a “good” writing process is, and how intense writing itself is. I’ve gotten so much insight, and I can’t say how much I look forward to reading new posts by you about writing, Leverage (yup, I’m on season 5 now, after I started reading your posts about them), and everything else. I’m a Math teacher, so I’m a numbers person all the way, but reading has always been my one true joy in life. I wish I could say the same about writing. However, I’ll live vicariously through all the wonderful writers here. Good luck to you all!
    PS. This collage process has blown me away – just wow! I can’t wait to see how everything turns out.

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  7. Jenny – You are a Collage Goddess! I love the 3-D aspect. The one for my current WIP is flat with the exception of the bakery box and a couple scrapbook embellishments. A 3-D one like yours is great for a street or town. Hmm. I hear some clips calling me.

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  8. Off topic but I’ve been wondering for a bit now – when you read for fun, does your sense/rules of arc, advancing plot and character development ever make you want to edit the book you are reading? Or force you to stop reading?

    I guess I’ve absorbed more than I thought I had from reading here. I’ve become more aware lately on how different the authors I’m reading are from you. Example, I’m re-reading The Wrong Rite by Charlott MacLeod right now. If you had written it, I’m fairly sure it would be about 60-120 pages shorter. Which kicked me back into wondering about how you read.

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    1. Yes. Once you start writing story, you rarely read or watch a story without at least subconsciously noticing the mistakes, which is why getting swept up in a story is such a pleasure now.

      There’s one book I’d loved before I started writing. Just read it again a couple of weeks ago and it’s awful; I loved it because it was part of a series I loved and it was the book where the detective finally got his head out of his derriere and realized he loved the heroine. But really the worst book of the series. The difference this time is that I keep thinking, “Hello, conflict?” and skimming looking for story.

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  9. Yeah, being a writer has made me second guess what on earth I was thinking when I fell in love with certain books many years ago. Seeing the flaws is one of those very sober hungover morning afters that no one wants to repeat, ever. Then again, it’s also made me in awe of so many writers who do so well, and that inspires me to keep trying.

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    1. But, Toni, didn’t that author do something right? You fell in love with the book! Did it matter that you were unversed in craft at the time? Aren’t most readers unversed in craft? Are we writing for other writers? I don’t think impressing a writer/ reader is any cooler an accomplishment than impressing a reader who doesn’t know any better. In the end, it’s all about that moment in time, when the reader is happy with the story. If a writer/reader thinks you blow, maybe some plain old readers do, too, and vice-versa.

      There is no objective standard from on high by which to measure a book’s value. I renounce such a thing if it exists. Stories have an element of magic which so-called craft standards can never, ever measure.

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  10. Kieran, yes, absolutely, they did do something right, because as a reader, I loved it. And that is really what it all boils down to–reaching the reader. I think the “what was I thinking?” was really more about the fact that I had thought it was a really structurally well-written book, and one that would teach me how to do some things I wanted to learn how to do, when I went back to re-read it. And I realized how unbiased I had been before learning too much about writing. (g)

    What’s great about that is that there’s almost always an audience out there, and that people can write something that works, without it being perfect, or even close to perfect. What’s confusing about that, as a writer, is… if something wasn’t well written, but gained a huge audience, then figuring out the why (in order to learn from that example) becomes a real challenge.

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    1. I think what it did for me was show me what I was reading for back when I loved it. I’d been reading that series for a long while, and the romance FINALLY landed, and I was so happy about that, I ignored the truly clunky plot loaded down with exposition for the moments with the hero trying to get his act together after he lost the heroine and realized what an idiot he’d been. I loved that series, my daughter’s middle name is the heroine’s, but my god, that book was bad.

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