He looks like me. He wears my clothes and sounds like me when he speaks, rarely as that might be. The troll at my writing desk is my distorted doppelganger. He comes into existence slowly over a period of days. Sometimes just a shadow, at first. But as my manuscript or editing become more involved, he solidifies and moves in, bringing with him discord and stench, like gym socks left in the bottom of a locker a little too long. He doesn’t care.
He is a miserable creature, communicating mostly in grunts and annoyed or angry glares. Judged from first appearances (and all subsequent) he is an asshole…but he writes a damned fine story.
He crawls in so silently, it’s sometimes days before I realize he’s taken over my space. Unfortunately for me, recognizing he’s back sometimes makes him that much harder to deal with for a while. He is a stubborn bastard.
There are times when I have to let him rule the space, despite the damage he does to the peace in my home. He isn’t terribly easy to get along with. But there are other times I must, am compelled, to shove him out the window and clean up the mess he’s made. He resists.
Sadly he is just as vulnerable as I am to writer’s block and the angst that follows. In fact, I’d say he’s a little more prone to it. He doesn’t learn lessons very well.
I’ve found that if I force the troll into the sunlight, he is initially very agitated by the exposure. He is an introvert of the highest degree. But sometimes, just sometimes, the fresh air and change of scenery are enough to snap him out of his funk. Let’s face it; agonizing over a creative block is no more quickly remedied by sitting, glaring at your monitor than it is walking around the block…in fact, less so. But he is stubborn.
Some days I’m able to keep the troll at bay, placating him with blog entries, a round or two (or twelve) of solitaire, or using chocolate milk in the latte instead of the usual cream top whole milk. But if he finds a crack in my defenses–a bad review, a slow down in sales, a drop in bestseller rank–he slides into my chair and pushes me aside. He is an asshole.
Sometimes I forget that creativity is born from experience. I get smug and controlling, feeling as if I’ve lived and experienced enough to have all my answers. I forget that 1. you can never have all the answers and 2. experiences are cumulative…when you stop experiencing them, you don’t have them anymore (you know…because you only have them WHILE you are doing them.) And worst of all, I forget (I mean he forgets) that interaction with the world is what the flow of ideas is all about…all the writing becomes is the expelling of the harvest of those ideas. But he has tunnel vision.
I’ve always been an introvert. Even when I was teaching in front of hundreds of people my personality was a mask created to transfer my experience in an entertaining and educational manner. You’d never know by seeing me speak (I’m an excellent liar…always have been). My schmoozer character, the one I created to help me traverse the human landscape, is a dashing, confident and funny fellow…the exact opposite of the troll; he is drab and unpleasant.
The middle is where I choose to live, between dashing flirt man and grunting troll man. But if I don’t get out of my chair periodically and let Mr. Charisma out of his box, Mr. Troll has a tendency to fill the schedule instead. He is a selfish monster–but he writes a damned fine piece of fiction.
I suppose I should schedule some time away from the desk, inoculating myself against his frequent appearance. But that damned alarm always seems to go off right when I’m on the verge of a literary breakthrough of some sort. He has horrible timing.
But I should. I will. Here I go. I’m going to get up and walk out so that he doesn’t have anything to latch onto this time…oh wow…that gives me a great idea for a story. I’ll just jot it down first and then I’ll go outside…I promise.
S.L. Shelton is the author of an Amazon Bestselling Political Thriller Action Espionage Series, (The Scott Wolfe Series). Follow him on Twitter @SLSheltonAuthor or Facebook. He will love you for it. And if you like the posts, click like (Clicks are the secret way to get authors to write more.)