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I used to have a lovely authentic Japanese kimono on this wall at the foot of our bed. Then one day I carried it to the spare bedroom where I draped it over a mirror and then put up the rows of painters tape you see here. Now every morning I wake to the unavoidable sight of my job. That giant self-assigned project I’ve been working on….my book.

This is a diagramatic representation of every story and every turning point in my memoir as directed by Blake Snyder in his book on screenwriting, Save the Cat. He has chapter after chapter discussing the virtues of deliberately laying out a story in order to measure the pacing and to be sure the critical elements that move a story forward are present and are effectively tied to one another. He’s the one who recommended this wall.

Some days when I open my eyes first thing in the morning, I’m disappointed to see the decorating that must be driving my husband crazy. (Why didn’t I do this in the spare bedroom and leave the kimono in our room?) Other days I so clearly see my progress and know that the most recent switching of sticky notes was correct and the story solidly conveys the themes I intend.

Sometimes after a long daydream or walk in the woods I run upstairs to see just what order I have arranged certain elements, or if the big climax is really where I think it is. Other days I have to see if my favorite story made the cut or after all the shuffling I’ve done it made the reject basket instead. I am using this wall to check points in my book proposal, or to see if what I told my agent makes sense.

I love this wall of bad decorating even though I look forward to the day the kimono goes back up.