Scott Sparling

Hallucinations, a blog about writing, trains, and Wire to Wire

The Wall Ball Method

Posted on Dec 31st, 1969.

I  worked on my first book in my treehouse. I wrote my second, not yet published, in PDX coffeeshops. Now I’m working on #3 in a secret location. I call it Wall Ball Arena.

Actually, it’s Wall Ball Arena II. I had to abandon the original Wall Ball Arena a while ago, despite the fact that it met nine of the ten facility criteria established by the IWBGC – that’s the International Wall Ball Governing Commission, the entirely fictional body that supervises the sport of throwing a ball against a wall. Their carefully developed criteria:

1. The wall must be tall.
2. The wall must be wide.
3. There should be a second wall behind you, so when you miss, you have a backstop.
4. The playing surface must be mostly even, but with occasional irregularities that produce crazy bounces to keep you on your toes.
5. The wall must be on public property to avoid private security guys telling you to scram.
6. The wall must be solid and not make too much noise when the ball hits it to avoid drawing unwanted attention.
7. The wall must be far enough away from homes that no one calls up the city and complains about a strange man playing Wall Ball day after day.
8. The wall should be mostly screened from public view so you can be alone with your thoughts. This is crucial!!!
9. The playing area must be covered, because this is Oregon and it’s raining.
10. The playing area must be lit.

Unfortunately, the first Wall Ball Arena fell short on criteria #10. It is not lit. Since it basically gets dark at approximately noon these days, I was faced with the prospect of going an entire winter without Wall Ball. Then I looked around and found Wall Ball Arena II. It’s even closer to where I live in Sucker Lake. It’s everything the first arena was…and it’s lit.

As mentioned, the rules of the game are simple. Throw the ball. Catch it. Repeat for 30 minutes.

That’s the physical aspect of the game, anyway. It’s the mental aspect I love. The necessity to be right in the present moment – there’s a ball arcing toward you, after all; your brain’s radar system must constantly calculate the route and calibrate your response. Your fine and not-so-fine motor skills must react instantly.

Wonderfully, the rest of your mind is not needed for this operation. Therefore it has the freedom to wander about and follow wherever your imagination leads.

For a while now, I’ve been letting it wander over the unexplored territory of my third novel. Or novel-in-progress.

 

 

Today, I walked into Wall Ball Arena II at approximately 5:30 pm. It was completely dark, raining, and 39 degrees. (Bad conditions are good because they help assure the arena will be empty. On nicer days, I sometimes have to compete for space with basketball-addicted teens. Once I entered the arena and saw – horrors!! – four adults playing pickleball! I averted my eyes, did an immediate about-face, and returned later.)

So tonight, after a few warm-up tosses, I let the unneeded parts of my mind roam around Chapter 2 of my work in progress.

The main character is called Onck, a young woman, Instacart shopper and YouTube content creator. Her roommate is named Sev. He’s a very talented (as in, New-Yorker-covers talented) graphic artist.

Here’s today’s problem: Sev has a traumatic and shameful (to him) history that is crucial to the plot. But I plan to write the entire novel in Onck’s point of view. So we’ll never know his backstory unless he tells Onck, which he will never do.

The solution: Sev is dealing with the very real pain of whatever happened to him by writing, or trying to write, a memoir. Since they live in rather close quarters, he has made Onck promise not to read it.

Okay, so…we know instantly that she is going to read it. How’s that going to go on the page?

For 30 minutes, I let ideas come bouncing at me along with the ball. A surprising number of full sentences and dialogue-sequences showed up. Then, on the 20-minute walk home, I dictated them into my notes app.

Later, I reworked them a bit and came up with a rough scene to open the chapter.  It’s not brilliant and it’s a long way from final. But it is also, notably, not a blank page. It’s a draft I can work with.

What happens next? I have no idea. But maybe tomorrow night’s Wall Ball session will shed some light.

After all, Wall Ball Arena II is lit.

The Wall Ball Method

Posted on Dec 31st, 1969.

I  worked on my first book in my treehouse. I wrote my second, not yet published, in PDX coffeeshops. Now I’m working on #3 in a secret location. I call it Wall Ball Arena.

Actually, it’s Wall Ball Arena II. I had to abandon the original Wall Ball Arena a while ago, despite the fact that it met nine of the ten facility criteria established by the IWBGC – that’s the International Wall Ball Governing Commission, the entirely fictional body that supervises the sport of throwing a ball against a wall. Their carefully developed criteria:

1. The wall must be tall.
2. The wall must be wide.
3. There should be a second wall behind you, so when you miss, you have a backstop.
4. The playing surface must be mostly even, but with occasional irregularities that produce crazy bounces to keep you on your toes.
5. The wall must be on public property to avoid private security guys telling you to scram.
6. The wall must be solid and not make too much noise when the ball hits it to avoid drawing unwanted attention.
7. The wall must be far enough away from homes that no one calls up the city and complains about a strange man playing Wall Ball day after day.
8. The wall should be mostly screened from public view so you can be alone with your thoughts. This is crucial!!!
9. The playing area must be covered, because this is Oregon and it’s raining.
10. The playing area must be lit.

Unfortunately, the first Wall Ball Arena fell short on criteria #10. It is not lit. Since it basically gets dark at approximately noon these days, I was faced with the prospect of going an entire winter without Wall Ball. Then I looked around and found Wall Ball Arena II. It’s even closer to where I live in Sucker Lake. It’s everything the first arena was…and it’s lit.

As mentioned, the rules of the game are simple. Throw the ball. Catch it. Repeat for 30 minutes.

That’s the physical aspect of the game, anyway. It’s the mental aspect I love. The necessity to be right in the present moment – there’s a ball arcing toward you, after all; your brain’s radar system must constantly calculate the route and calibrate your response. Your fine and not-so-fine motor skills must react instantly.

Wonderfully, the rest of your mind is not needed for this operation. Therefore it has the freedom to wander about and follow wherever your imagination leads.

For a while now, I’ve been letting it wander over the unexplored territory of my third novel. Or novel-in-progress.

 

 

Today, I walked into Wall Ball Arena II at approximately 5:30 pm. It was completely dark, raining, and 39 degrees. (Bad conditions are good because they help assure the arena will be empty. On nicer days, I sometimes have to compete for space with basketball-addicted teens. Once I entered the arena and saw – horrors!! – four adults playing pickleball! I averted my eyes, did an immediate about-face, and returned later.)

So tonight, after a few warm-up tosses, I let the unneeded parts of my mind roam around Chapter 2 of my work in progress.

The main character is called Onck, a young woman, Instacart shopper and YouTube content creator. Her roommate is named Sev. He’s a very talented (as in, New-Yorker-covers talented) graphic artist.

Here’s today’s problem: Sev has a traumatic and shameful (to him) history that is crucial to the plot. But I plan to write the entire novel in Onck’s point of view. So we’ll never know his backstory unless he tells Onck, which he will never do.

The solution: Sev is dealing with the very real pain of whatever happened to him by writing, or trying to write, a memoir. Since they live in rather close quarters, he has made Onck promise not to read it.

Okay, so…we know instantly that she is going to read it. How’s that going to go on the page?

For 30 minutes, I let ideas come bouncing at me along with the ball. A surprising number of full sentences and dialogue-sequences showed up. Then, on the 20-minute walk home, I dictated them into my notes app.

Later, I reworked them a bit and came up with a rough scene to open the chapter.  It’s not brilliant and it’s a long way from final. But it is also, notably, not a blank page. It’s a draft I can work with.

What happens next? I have no idea. But maybe tomorrow night’s Wall Ball session will shed some light.

After all, Wall Ball Arena II is lit.

The Wall Ball Method

Posted on Dec 31st, 1969.

I worked on my first book in my treehouse and my second, not yet published, in coffeeshops. Now I’m working on #3 in a secret location. I call it Wall Ball Arena.

Actually, it’s Wall Ball Arena II. I had to abandon the original Wall Ball Arena a while ago, despite the fact that it met nine of the ten facility criteria established by the IWBGC – that’s the International Wall Ball Governing Commission, the entirely fictional body that supervises the sport of throwing a ball against a wall. Their carefully developed criteria:

1. The wall must be tall.
2. The wall must be wide.
3. There should be a second wall behind you, so when you miss, you have a backstop.
4. The playing surface must be mostly even, but with occasional irregularities that produce crazy bounces to keep you on your toes.
5. The wall must be on public property to avoid private security guys telling you to scram.
6. The wall must be solid and not make too much noise when the ball hits it to avoid drawing unwanted attention.
7. The wall must be far enough away from homes that no one calls up the city and complains about a strange man playing Wall Ball day after day.
8. The wall should be mostly screened from public view so you can be alone with your thoughts. This is crucial!!!
9. The playing area must be covered, because this is Oregon and it’s raining.
10. The playing area must be lit.

Unfortunately, the first Wall Ball Arena fell short on criteria #10. It is not lit. Since it basically gets dark at approximately noon these days, I was faced with the prospect of going an entire winter without Wall Ball. Then I looked around and found Wall Ball Arena II. It’s even closer to where I live in Sucker Lake. It’s everything the first arena was…and it’s lit.

As mentioned, the rules of the game are simple. Throw the ball. Catch it. Repeat for 30 minutes.

That’s the physical aspect of the game, anyway. It’s the mental aspect I love. The necessity to be right in the present moment – there’s a ball arcing toward you, after all; your brain’s radar system must constantly calculate the route and calibrate your response. Your fine and not-so-fine motor skills must react instantly.

Wonderfully, the rest of your mind is not needed for this operation. Therefore it has the freedom to wander about and follow wherever your imagination leads.

For a while now, I’ve been letting it wander over the unexplored territory of my third novel. Or novel-in-progress, I guess.

Today, I walked into Wall Ball Arena II at approximately 5:30 pm. It was completely dark, raining, and 39 degrees. (Bad conditions are good because they help assure the arena will be empty. On nicer days, I sometimes have to compete for space with basketball-addicted teens. Once I entered the arena and saw – horrors!! – four adults playing pickleball! I averted my eyes, did an immediate about-face, and returned later.)

So tonight, after a few warm-up tosses, I let the unneeded parts of my mind roam around Chapter 2 of my work in progress.

The main character is called Onck, a young woman, Instacart shopper and YouTube content creator. Her roommate is named Sev. He’s a very talented (as in, New-Yorker-covers talented) graphic artist.

Here’s today’s problem: Sev has a traumatic and shameful (to him) history that is crucial to the plot. But I plan to write the entire novel in Onck’s point of view. So we’ll never know his backstory unless he tells Onck, which he will never do.

The solution: Sev is dealing with the very real pain of whatever happened to him by writing, or trying to write, a memoir. Since they live in rather close quarters, he has made Onck promise not to read it.

Okay, so…we know instantly that she is going to read it. How’s that going to go on the page?

For 30 minutes, I let ideas come bouncing at me along with the ball. A surprising number of full sentences and dialogue-sequences showed up. Then, on the 20-minute walk home, I dictated them into my notes app.

Later, I reworked them a bit and came up with a rough scene to open the chapter.  It’s not brilliant and it’s a long way from final. But it is also, notably, not a blank page. It’s a draft I can work with.

What happens next? I have no idea. But maybe tomorrow night’s Wall Ball session will shed some light.

After all, Wall Ball Arena II is lit.