I’ve often thought about the parallel between sewing and weaving, and writing, but always in relation to writing poetry. It’s a metaphor that has been used by writers before, as has the technique of quilting, and these metaphors can also apply to life, community and the weaving together of cultures and histories. The techniques involved in painting could apply to writing, where stories are built up in layers, much as an oil painting would be, where colours and textures are added bit by bit. The weaving metaphor, though, is one that really applies to the writing of my current adult contemporary novel. It’s also one that, ironically, is being played out in my life at the moment… I’ll go on to explain this in a bit. Firstly, the novel…
To start with, it’s a collaboration, something I’ve never done before. It seems more natural, therefore, that the text is woven together when two people are writing it. It’s not a case of me writing one chapter and my co-author writing another. It isn’t really a case of there being two defined voices, although there are two central characters. The voices become similar and meld together. We have both noticed that, when reading back a chapter, we can’t always tell which bits each of us wrote. The threads are truly interwoven.
Another thing about this book, is that some of it comprises pieces not actually written for the book. They are then ‘dismantled’ and woven into the plot. Some of these pieces come from my co-author, some are from poems that I have written over the years. One chunk even came from the novel I wrote about four years ago, and have since ‘put to bed’!
Something else which sets this novel aside from other things I’ve written and am writing, is that normally I write a first draft and on reaching the end, go back to edit… and the process continues. Not with this one! We are now at 51,000 words and I have lost count of the amount of times along route that I have gone back to the beginning and read through what we have written and tweaked and fine tuned, and spotted little moments of symbolism, or threads, that I have then woven into another section or chapter. It really is like the process of weaving or sewing, assembling something, piecing it together. It also feels much more experimental than the way I would normally write. There’s a lot more spontaneity to it and a lot more colour.
Where the weaving metaphor applies to my own life at the moment, is that, in part, the novel has become part of it, and it part of the novel. In addition to this, there are people who have come into my life over the last few months, one who has been in my life for many years, that have become woven into it. Those of you who read my blog post on 20th April, ‘One foot in another world’, with the illustration of the way I visualise the days of the week in colour, probably won’t be surprised to know that this is how I see people too. Not all people, but people who become friends and who I feel close to, generally have a colour. Oddly, the way these people have come into my life, the similarities between situations and conversations that we’ve had, makes it feel even more as if we are all part of the same story, being woven together. I’ve tried to illustrate this below.
There are eight different colour threads, one of them represents me, and there are more of the green threads because I share the same colour with someone else. It’ll be interesting to see if, by the end of the year, any other threads are added. At the moment, I don’t think I need any more. I have seven lovely threads running alonside me, making my life richer and inspiring my words. I am very lucky.
Do you have a metaphor which applies to your writing? Do you weave ideas into your words or build up your story in layers?