Trollbooth Blog #8


Designed by Margie Markevicius @
Designed by Margie Markevicius

If you haven’t been following my Trollbooth blog, you can catch up here.

As you may have seen on social media, the second draft of Trollbooth is finished.  A marathon session of work over the long weekend got me to the final sentence; there were times I felt the way I did writing my second novel back when I was 19 – like I was in an ever-expanding zone where my fingers flew over the keys.  It was good to find that place, even if real life requires me to have a baby monitor on the desk, too.

The novel checks in at 175 typed, double-spaced pages, which translates to a  respectable 43,750 words (approximately).  That was about what I estimated looking over the handwritten first draft a couple months ago.  However, I think this one’s going to get bigger.  This isn’t the usual way I work, but I’m not exactly big on “following the rules” when it comes to art.  This time, rather than make a sculpture out of a big chunky block, it appears I’m going to have to add some more material here and there, then chip away as I go.

The reason for this is inconsistency in my writing routine.  Factors good and bad contributed to me getting up late (which, as a morning writer, cuts into my creative time) or not writing for stretches of days during the Trollbooth first draft process.  Whenever that happens, I fight with myself.  I feel like I should be further along in the writing, or that I have to get to a certain scene/event/whatever as soon as possible because it’s been rattling around in my head for days.  It makes me rush through the creation process, and it’s noticeable when I’m working on the second draft.  It sticks out like hot pink spray paint against a black background filled with nice, neat, white printed sentences.

In my third draft, I’m going to have to scrap away that graffiti without destroying the words underneath.  I’ll need to add detail and some exposition as I round out a narrative that’s already big on action…but perhaps isn’t as alive as it should be.  There aren’t enough lights on to chase back the shadows, and in this case, the shadows hide the creeping death called shoddy work.  I’ve got to banish that demon.  This book means too much to me to let it stand.

Before that happens, I’ll need to step away from the Enchanted Forest State Forest for a couple weeks.  Another project for my writers’ group anthology requires my attention.  I plan on keeping record of my process throughout that project, the way I have with Trollbooth.  Doing so has helped me understand my work, my process, and hopefully how to eliminate some of my weaknesses, and that’s never bad.

It’s also been nice to have a greater connection with you, dear reader.  Because of comments, and also because as an artist, I believe engagement with audience is a part of the overall creative process, I’m much more aware of those whom I can, should, and will entertain.  I have fun writing these stories, and so it stands to reason that what I write should be fun for you, too.  Thanks for taking some time here on the Imaginary Playground.  As Halestorm says, “Here’s to us.”


Trollbooth Blog #3

Last week was a bummer in just about every way. I lost two pets on Monday and an aunt later in the week. Needless to say, most of my time was spent working through grief and taking care of the family. It left only a little time for writing; the follow is how I feel about what’s been happening this week.

If you haven’t be following my Trollbooth bloom, you can catch up here.

Regularity may be the most important part of my writing process, but the reality of life is that it’s not always possible. I’m trying to accept that as I move from one week to the next. Now I’m feeling guilty about the coming week, where I’ll be on vacation. I’ve been planning for a couple months now to take a concurrent vacation from my usual work – which is currently Trollbooth – and simply write a story or two longhand. I’ve done vacations before where I’d go camping or halfway across the country, and leading up to them I’d have this believe that I could write my usual work and suffer no difficulties even though I’m out of my usual environment. It never worked. At best, I felt like I was writing to put words on the page, or revising under duress, I’d get something solid accomplished, but it was slower and more tedious. I don’t know about all of you out there, but that’s not the way I want to experience my vacation. To that end, I spent some time this winter contemplating what I had done well on vacation, and that was simply write a story, from scratch or a plan, but with a pen in hand and a bunch of blank paper ahead of me. Old–fashioned? Sure. It also works. I’ve learned not to argue with what works when it comes to procedure.

And so I have eight days ahead of me where I don’t have to sweat the small details. This week is about the creation part of writing, the birthing of an idea from thought to something others can understand and enjoy. Work on Trollbooth will recommended next week when I’m back at my desk, with my hardcopy and my usual keyboard and double-monitor setup. I believe I can finish the second draft in under 2 weeks, and that’s judging by the typing speed I was averaging on the few occasions I actually was able to write this past week. Now at I’m in the groove, both in the muscle mechanics of typing and the growing confidence I’ve developed in the story. I can actually see my first draft evolving and taking shape on the page. It coincides with the memories of writing I have from that period, where I was holding large chunks of story movement in my conscious mind, even when I wasn’t at my desk. That let me work on smoothing out the rough edges, since I was almost always aware of the sequence of plot events. I know what I’m doing when I sit down each day to write. It’s a good feeling; old as my writing career and fresh as a lecherous first date. Add in a week of swimming in pure story-ether, and I call this a period of refreshment and renewal.

Trollbooth Blog #1

Designed by Margie Markevicius @
Designed by Margie Markevicius

Last autumn, I wrote a draft for a novel called Trollbooth. It’s a starting point for my Enchanted Forest State Forest character Joe Keester.  In fact, this novel is the story of Joe’s first day on the job.

think I should be excited about what I wrote, but to tell the honest truth, this is one of those stories that just wrote itself.  I wasn’t even sure if it was going to get long enough for the term novel until I’d been at it a couple weeks straight and saw no end in sight.  I know that part of the process went well, but beyond that I can’t yet say what shape the story is in.

See, I made myself do an experiment with Trollbooth.  I haven’t even peeked at it since I wrote the last words of the tale back in November.  I wanted a fresh look at it as I do my second draft, and never in the 8 or so books I’ve had a go at have I really let something go for a while.  This will be a journey of discovery for me – and I think it’ll help me make my work more memorable to a greater audience.

In part because I want to talk about it, and in part because I hope readers and writers will help me remain accountable to myself, I’m going to write a weekly column here where I’ll describe my thoughts, successes, and challenges for the past week’s writing.  I think it’s worth keeping a journal of the process; how else do we learn but by seeing how others put their fears and triumphs into words?  How does somebody else see the private part of writing, where it’s just a guy/gal and a laptop/pen & paper?

The point I’m rambling around like I always do is that when I was in writing school, I spent a lot of my time learning from the writing that writers do…to get to the writing you read, like, and call memorable.  I do it a lot myself.  This time, I’d like to share the process in the hope that somebody can find something which will help enable their own writing.  It’s how I can give back to this art that makes my life better by empowering my imagination.

I’ll be posting each Monday to the Imaginary Playground.  I don’t know what it’ll sound like yet, and I won’t know until I’m in the thick of it.  I’m going to do it anyway, even if I sound like a raving dork.  It’s gonna be fun.