Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Making a Map

Recently I’ve started thinking about Nanowrimo again.

I had intended to plan this year out. I’ve never planned a single first draft before and I like to try something different every November. With editing my first manuscript weighing on my mind I just haven’t got around to even thinking about what I’m going to write in November.

I was a little disappointed in myself for not having thought of anything yet so I decided I’d give Holly Lisle’s Map and Essay a go and see if I could conjure up any ideas from that.

I have made a couple of these maps before but find myself agonising over where to put trees and mountains! I decided this time that I wouldn’t work on plain paper.

I grabbed myself a load of paper from my discarded print-outs pile and started to age them with a tea and coffee solution (I went for Instant Carte Noire and PG Tips!). Colour print-outs look so gorgeous when they’re tea-stained. The colour from the ink becomes very diffused and anything can look beautiful – I used an HP print test page which has a beautiful butterfly on it and some print outs of Frida Kahlo paintings. I also used some worksheets that I printed out for a textiles workshop I taught a few years ago.

My first experiment hasn’t been too successful – I decided yesterday that I would make an Atlas.

I have the vague image of an island in my head and I was thinking I’d like to try some sort of fantasy adventure with lots of travelling. So, I figured I needed lots of maps.

I took a really old diary of mine and started to paste together the pages. I decided I’d only give myself 6-8 double page spreads so I needed to glue all the other pages together (stopping the pasting at interesting spots of writing and doodles which might make good backgrounds for my map).

Unfortunately this has led to one big soggy mess that I’m trying to dry on the towel rail! Maybe it’ll be beautifully distressed like an old map once it’s dry, who knows – it might take a few weeks though.

My second attempt has been a lot more promising.

I took one of those cardboard pieces that Amazon.co.uk use to send books out, unfolded it and pasted on some of my favourite print outs. Hopefully it’ll be dry tomorrow and I can carefully cover the other side too.

Once it’s dry I’ll start to draw in my islands and mountains and volcanoes and so forth, drawing on the imagery and words in the background.

I’m thinking about leaving the actual essay until the first day of November and trying to make it more into a story.

I already have an idea about this map being passed down to a girl. I’m going to let that thought compost during October.

Find out more about my Nanowrimo experience here.


  1. Fantastic ideas Rachel, I never plan for NaNo either but this year I have written myself a bullet point list with one word per line doing down the list to jog my memory of the many fleeting ideas that have been drifting in and out of my mind since the end of last years :)
    Good luck with all of this, love the map too, cant wait to see more
    Helen x

  2. Thanks so much Helen! :D

    A bullet point list is a great idea - I might be doing something similar when I have a better idea of what might happen.