In Praise Of Anthony Trollope

I wish I could say I happened upon the example of Anthony Trollope all on my own, but I can’t.  I first came across his name reading Stephen King’s book On Writing. The basic gist of Trollope’s story is that every morning from 5-8 or thereabouts, he would get up and write and then off to work for the post office of the United Kingdom.  He is credited with creating the octagonal mailbox famous throughout Britain and he had quite a career rising up through the ranks of the service.

He was also a very successful  and prolific writer.  He published over forty novels, numerous short stories, works of non-fiction and even articles for the magazines of the day.  He was so productive that no matter what, he wrote every morning without fail, until it was time to go to work.  As King recounts, if he finished a story within the writing window he’d type “the end” and immediately start the next one.

I have no designs on being as productive as Trollope.  For the better part of his writing window, I’m trying to get children out of bed, off to school and then myself to work.  I do, however, get to work early (like now!) and instead of popping open Twitter and my other news sources, I get to work.

Since the end of March until last week, pretty much every work day, I’ve written.  The goal was three pages.  I rarely made it over that number and I often fell below.  However, I kept on working.  The result? a 245 page screenplay.  Yes, that is twice and then some the size that is recommended for a screenplay.  I’ve got some serious editing to do.  The feeling of accomplishment is striking though.  Honestly, I didn’t think I would feel this…good.  I fully realize that the odds of this project getting much further than a recycle bin in an office somewhere are unbelievably high. But it’s finished, at least the first draft and the odds of getting it made have improved greatly from when it was just an idea.

Of course something crazy like 95% of screenplays submitted get turned down, but during this break I get to dream a little.  I can start casting roles, prepare my award acceptance speech, start budgeting the payment I’ll be receiving soon.  Come the turn of the year and a return to the routine, I’ll be back to my routine, perhaps my least favorite part of the writing process, editing.  But for now it’s a time to relax and celebrate both the holidays and my progress on this project.  Oh, and give thanks to Anthony Trollope. I couldn’t have done it without you, Tony!


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