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Writing Workspace

One thing I've grown more curious about is how an author goes about creating his or her work. I'm beginning to have a better understanding of that process these days; or, at least, how I go about creating a story. I thought that reading and seeing some of the steps I go through might prove interesting to a handful of you. 
 
I've learned that I genuinely enjoy plotting. With my first short story, I had an idea of how the story would go, but didn't get around to writing anything down for years. Then, when I was up extremely late one night (and not by choice) everything sort of fell into place. I scribbled a hasty page of notes and went to sleep. Fours hours later, at work, I skimmed over what I'd plotted and realized it wasn't nonsense. It could work. My second short story was longer in the planning, but it was also a far more involved story. I mixed my planning between jotted notes and talking aloud with a friend -a very effective technique by the way. Ten days later, I pretty much had that story as it would end up in final copy. For book two, The Most Dangerous Game: A Taste for Game, I fell somewhere in between. It was August of 2011 when I sat down on our front porch (pictured) and laid out the story events. That took 3-4 days before I felt I had a workable map to navigate with. Now, a year later, with some changes to the original plot, I'm close to publication. Plotting is fun.
   
Ralph Lagana's writing desk

Writing is another matter entirely. With a few exceptions, I feel confident I'm not alone in the pain that comes with trying to create with words. I'll save the details of my writing steps, in part because it would take a long time to explain, and because I don't really have steps. I work in fits and starts and typically employ several approaches to writing. I can spend an hour working on one paragraph one day and then forget worrying about flow, word choice, and sentence structure the next. Again, I'll share this another time. Possibly.

What I will share are two things: my workspace and my notes. Well, not all of my notes, but some. What you see depicted in the various images are my two writing stations, magazine clippings, articles, an early rough draft with hand-written notes, and a few of scraps of paper I tend to collect. There's a lot of research that goes into writing and I make sure to keep all of it handy when rereading my writing. I also have a tendency to leave loads of reminders and ideas on odd paper. You see an envelop for example, the back of another article I had written, and my plan book, which has about ten more pages of mad scribblings to it.
Inspiration does come unbidden it seems and you have to write ideas down on whatever is nearby or they'll simply vanish. 


I write mainly using a word processor. But it's also true that I write a good deal by hand -especially when I'm stuck on something. If some bit of dialog doesn't work for me, or I'm wondering about a specific sequence of events, or I just want to brainstorm, then out comes pen and paper -any piece of paper. These bits end up in easily accessed layers in front of my monitor. I will add that I could not write anything intelligible without a word processor. Everyone who writes for a living impresses the heck out of me, but not so much as those who once wrote using only pen and paper or even a typewriter. I couldn't do that. (Actually, I did in college and my grades were
reflective of that.)  I make far too many mistakes and change my mind almost as often. Adjacent to my computer hutch is my writing desk. It is mostly used to house our mail and write checks to pay the bills, but I will occasionally write by hand there.  I almost always use the desktop  to spread everything before me when cross-checking things. I prefer seeing everything laid out to give myself a sense of where I am with the story. This type of visual overview has helped ensure that everything I want to be in the story ends up in its proper place.

I guess my space looks like it should for a writer. It wasn't planned this way. I love to read and own tons of books, though more and more I'm moving into digital only copies. I'm lucky enough to have a room to call my office and writing space. My father's old office desk was given to me when my parents moved into another home and it fit me well.

NOTE: If you're straining to read some of my notes or identifying some of the images, goes easy on your eyes. I blurred quite a bit because what's there gives away parts of the story. Even so, if you look too much, you may learn some surprises you don't want to. You can also see that I am a comic book fan. There are several original comic book pages on the walls.
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