Thursday, May 17, 2012

Me and Stephen King

First of all, I've never met him. Second we have nothing in common, and everything in common. I am currently reading On Writing. This is the second time I've tried to read it. I think my first attempt was back in 2007 (maybe) when I was first starting out in the daunting task of editing a manuscript. I had finally found an editor and she was kind enough to show me how often I wrote in passive voice. I believe she was the one to recommend Mr. King's book. I say that the first time was an attempt because I faded before the middle of the book. It was boring and I didn't understand it. I came at it wanting an epiphany and all I got was his life's history. I thought, "This is supposed to be about writing, not an autobiography." Oh how naive I was.

I still am green but I can see definite progress in my thinking. I'm learning. (BTW, I'm a slow learner.)

This time around I was ready for the brilliance. And although I am not finished-I'm on page 122-I felt the need to pass on what little I have learned about writing and the meaningful amount of encouragement I've gained from Mr. King. (Thank you for your book, by the way.)

As I read On Writing and I find a passage here and there that strikes a cord in my brain, I highlight it! This is not something I do with every book I read, but with this one it seemed appropriate. My advice to every author (published or not) is to read this book again and highlight things. Then, years later, read it again. Your brain changes over time. Your thoughts and your outlook changes. His words will come at you differently each time. THIS TIME, Stephen King's life history put in prospective his challenges and his perseverance. In that regard we are both the same.

Every writer has to start somewhere. Whether they are the product of a single-parent family environment or they have all the tea in china, writers begin somewhere. NO ONE starts off writingThe Shining in his first go-round. (And I am not educated enough to think of writers on the equivalent as Mozart writing a symphony) BUT the writers who eventually DO write The Shining, and Carrie,etc... WORK to do it. It takes time, talent, and tenaciousness. (I like alliteration.) To be a writer means you WILL be rejected. But what you do with that rejection will shape how you look at your art.

I'm learning that most writers are extremely critical of their own stuff. Even Stephen King said he threw Carrie into the trash! If that is not encouragement right there I do not know what is! In his book he says things like, “I have spent a good many years since--too many, I think--being ashamed about what I write. I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction or poetry who has ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent. If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that's all.” (pg. 50) I highlight these lines to remind myself I am not alone in these thoughts. People DO and have made me feel lousy about what I write.

I was at a dinner party last year and I was excited about When Love Is Not Enough because it was accepted by Dreamspinner and would finally get published. One person at the party asked about it. (She was an aspiring author and I am not sure as yet of she is published.) When I gave her a description she said something to the affect of, "Oh, you mean you are publishing crap." That comment stuck with me. She thought it was crap because it had sex in it. She thought it was crap because it was not a mainstream book. She thought it was crap because I didn't have a literary agent. Maybe in the eyes of most of the literary world it IS crap, but it is crap that means the world to ME! And not just me, When Love Is Not Enough has meant something to its readers.

This is MY beginning. Stephen King had the sci-fi mags and the short stories he wrote when he was young. He started writing very young where as I DID NOT. (I think I was in high school and beyond when writing became a passion.) He started and he kept on going because it was in his bones. NONE of us know who the next Stephen King will be. Do we? The world didn't know who he was when he was 10, but most of the world does now! Writers have a beginning and as they take each step into the dark unknown they have to have faith in their dream.

As I have seen elsewhere on the internet, "Most people are not cut out to be astronauts, some are going to be fry-cooks." The same can be said of authors. Not everyone out there is going to write a novel as acclaimed as Gone With The Wind, or The Godfather, but how do we know unless we start?

Stephen King is an amazing author who takes us on HIS personal writing journey in On Writing The book is to show how he was formed. His talent was there, but the book explains in his mind how his craft was shaped over time.

If the gift is in us, we owe to ourselves to put it to use. We must learn and grow and and put to page the stories that form in our minds.

As I write, I have also learned that only other writers appreciate the creativity and loneliness that being an author brings. "Outsiders" want to know where we get our ideas and how we write. But only authors know that sometimes there are no answers for those questions. Sometimes the idea comes out of no where. Sometimes they are two ideas put together. Sometimes the story comes from a mutated for of a childhood memory. Whatever it is, only other writers appreciate it for the "unknown aspect" that it is. I am glad for those other writers I have met through the years. (Although not so happy about meeting the one who called my writing crap.)

I'd like to think I have something powerful to say. I want to reach the world. I want to let people know they matter and they are loved for WHO THEY ARE! If other people call that crap, maybe they just don't understand what it means to have a vision.

That is all I have to say for now. Leave comments, you know I love those!

PS: to all of those people who read and rate WLINE, Thank You! I TRY to "like" a review and read what people think, or even say "glad you liked it" when someone gives me 4 stars (or whatever) but I am finding it harder to do that. For some reason not all people who rate the book can be found. (Maybe it is a privacy setting?) But for those I can't thank personally, I DO THANK YOU! and I do notice.


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