Essay: "Troll" by Megan Wheeler

Troll
By Megan Wheeler
Idaho

With a cup of coffee in my hand, I force myself to sit down in front of my computer. I open up a new document and stare.

And stare.

And stare.

Most people are familiar with some sort of story about a grumpy troll that lives under a bridge and requires a toll to cross, whether it be an answer to a riddle or a large sum of money. Writer’s block for me is a similar story, but my troll is mute. There is no exact reason to why I came down with writer’s block. It seems like one day my love of writing freely was ripped away by something nasty. Now, I am faced with the same scene.

***

The grass is ridiculously green and comical, and there are only a few clouds on the loose. A large patch of wildflowers is somewhere off in the distance and there are several trees cleverly placed around the area. I feel like I am in a happy, carefree cartoon, and I expect Dora the Explorer to show up asking about a fox. A nice dirt road winds down a slight hill and a questionable bridge sits at the bottom. Beneath it is either a small river or a large canal-- the water looks calm. For some reason, there is a strong need for me to cross the bridge. I am not entirely sure why but I feel as though it is in my best interest to cross.

I’m still not writing.

The walk is easy-- there is no fork in the road, nothing to be distracted by, and there isn’t a sign of a fox wanting to swipe something. The bridge is easy to see and easy to get to-- it isn’t hidden by a large bush and it doesn’t require anything other than walking to reach it. It’s almost too accessible…

Image Design by Pamela Craig

Image Design by Pamela Craig

The bridge looks terrible: there is no railing, and chunks of wood are missing. I would be better off taking my chances with the water-- it looks so peaceful. But still, I feel the urge to cross. I don’t know what’s over this shitty bridge but I need to find out.

I’m still not writing.

As I take a few steps closer to the bridge, I hear something in the water thrashing about, and then the sound of feet padding along the moist ground. I freeze as a short, hairy troll lumbers over and sticks its hand out. Its dark brown hair is matted, and its unibrow covers the majority of its large black eyes. It's a stubby little creature, with thick arms and legs, and even though it only comes up to my knees, I wouldn’t want to mess with it.

I take another step closer, and it grunts and waves its arms at me.

“I want to cross this bridge. Please.” Maybe kindness is the answer. Again, it grunts but lets its arms drop down to its side. I step to the side to try to go around it, but it steps in front of me.

I’m still not writing.

“Please...I really need to cross this bridge.” More grunts. I narrow my eyes and raise my chin up, “Let me cross this fucking bridge!” I scream, but the troll just narrows its eyes too. I take a deep breath and apologize. I ask if there is something I can do to persuade it to let me cross, but I don’t even get a grunt this time. My eyes fall to where he crawled out from, “Look! Swiper no swiping! That pesky fox is totally swiping something really important to you!” Not even a blink. The troll is relentless. I try bribing it with money and sweets and even a couch to crash on. I tell the troll how much I need to cross this bridge-- that something life-changing is over there I just know it.

Why am I still not writing?

But it just stands there, staring.

And staring.

And staring.

***

I can see my problem. I can see where I wish to be. I wish to be a writing writer again—the type of writer who just writes because something cool popped into their head. The type of writer who doesn’t care what they just word vomited onto the page. I wish to be at a place where I can just write because I want to.

Maybe I don’t understand why I wish to be there so badly. Maybe that’s why I cannot seem to find a solution. Maybe that’s why I can’t pay the toll.

Maybe I need to puff up my chest and shove the troll to the ground.

Maybe I need to stop pitying myself. I’ve been so caught up in feeling sorry for myself and writing papers about writer’s block and whining to people that “I haven’t written in so long” that I haven’t taken a second to just shut the fuck up and write something.

Maybe I need to grow up.

Maybe I need to stop staring.

And staring.

And staring.


Megan Wheeler is a writer from Idaho.

"Writing seems to be the only thing I'm kind of good at, and I enjoy it. Nowadays I only write when I have an assignment due, but I'm hoping to find my passion for writing creatively on my own again."

On their work: 

"I wrote it for my non-fiction class. I wanted to show what my writer's block looks like and feels like. I hope other writers can relate."

On creators: 

"Writing is the best way for me to get my voice heard. Otherwise, I am too quiet and too often not heard. I think a lot of writers feel the same way. Write loud people. Write loud."


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