I spent an hour or so weaving this morning. There's a fiber artist here who's asked for some help on a big project in exchange for a beautiful handwoven scarf. The conversation about process would probably have been enough. "Do you have a big sketch or a painting that plans this all out?" I asked. She said that she didn't. That she's working intuitively and often works this way. She has finished weavings on her wall that look like beautiful landscapes. Snow dusted mountains, fields of poppies... or not. You might see something else.
Right now the floor of her studio looks like this:
My desk looks like this. I have two stacks of index cards--story idea cards with ideas for stories or maybe the first paragraph or two. The other stack of cards is images, a snippet of overheard dialogue, a line of information that amazes me, whatever catches my eye or ear or breaks my heart on any given day. When I begin, I chose a story idea that feels "hot." Then I spend several minutes shuffling through the image cards, intuitively pulling out whichever ones feel connected to the story. I weave them together, following the emotion, the action, the character and the trouble they're in. If they don't fit, images cards go back into the stack for another day.
In the end the weaver has to sew down the ends in that big tapestry to anchor them. I have to edit, and edit, catching up loose ends and pulling some bits out.