Premise of Blog: As an unpublished writer, I thought it might be interesting to find out more about those envied souls – the published writer. As there are so many of them and so many genres, I decided to select an author randomly (pointing a finger) from A-Z and focus on what he or she had to say about writing, hoping against hope that some of what they had to say would be of great publishing value. As it’s quite a large tasking, I thought it might be fun to share this information with other would be published writers and hear what they have to say about the author, their writing or the craft in general. And, if by lucky chance, a published author happened to take a peek at this blog, well, all comments much appreciated.
This week’s featured writer: Stephen King
Mr. King’s quote on being a writer: ‘People forget I am a real person.’
Inspiration for launching himself into a writing career: Mr. King compares his uncle's successfully searching for water using the bough of an apple branch with the sudden realization of what he wanted to do for a living. That inspiration occurred while browsing through an attic with his elder brother, when he uncovered a paperback version of an H.P. Lovecraft collection of short stories, entitled The Lurker in the Shadows, which had belonged to his father. The cover art—an illustration of a yellow-green demon hiding within the recesses of a Hellish cavern beneath a tombstone—was, he writes, the moment in his life which "that interior dowsing rod responded to." King told Barnes & Noble Studios during a 2009 interview, "I knew that I'd found home when I read that book."
Favourite Writers: Faulkner, Dreiser, and McCullers
Extraordinary into Ordinary: He equates that he says and does to a crack in the mirror. If we go back over the books from Carrie on up, what we see is an observation of ordinary middle-class American life as it’s lived at the time that particular book was written. In every life we get to a point where we have to deal with something that’s inexplicable to us, whether it’s the doctor saying we have cancer or a prank phone call. So whether we talk about ghosts or vampires or Nazi war criminals living down the block, we’re still talking about the same thing, which is an intrusion of the extraordinary into ordinary life and how we deal with it. What that shows about our character and our interactions with others and the society we live in interests people a lot more than monsters and vampires and ghouls and ghosts.
Writing Surroundings: It’s nice to have a desk, a comfortable chair so you’re not shifting around all the time, and enough light. Wherever you write is supposed to be a little bit of a refuge, a place where you can get away from the world. The more closed in you are, the more you’re forced back on your own imagination. I mean, if I were near a window, I’d be OK for a while, but then I’d be checking out the girls on the street and who’s getting in and out of the cars and, you know, just the little street-side stories that are going on all the time: what’s this one up to, what’s that one selling?
On Finishing First Draft: It’s good to give the thing at least six weeks to sit and breathe. Every book is different each time you revise it. Because when you finish the book, you say to yourself, this isn’t what I meant to write at all. At some point, when you’re actually writing the book, you realize that. But if you try to steer it, you’re like a pitcher trying to steer a fastball, and you screw everything up. As the science-fiction writer Alfred Bester used to say, ‘the book is the boss’. You’ve got to let the book go where it wants to go, and you just follow along. If it doesn’t do that, it’s a bad book.
Sources of material besides experience: Sometimes it’s other stories. A few years ago I was listening to a book on tape by John Toland called The Dillinger Days. One of the stories is about John Dillinger and his friends Homer Van Meter and Jack Hamilton fleeing Little Bohemia, and Jack Hamilton being shot in the back by a cop after crossing the Mississippi River. Then all this other stuff happens to him that Toland doesn’t really go into. And I thought, I don’t need Toland to tell me what happens, and I don’t need to be tied to the truth. These people have legitimately entered the area of American mythology. I’ll make up my own shit. So I wrote a story called “The Death of Jack Hamilton.”
Relationship of writing to money: I think you should be paid for what you do. Every morning, I wake up to the alarm clock, do my leg exercises, and then sit down at the word processor. By noon my back aches and I’m tired out. I work as hard or harder than I used to, so I want to be paid. But basically, at this point, it’s how you keep score.
Note: The above information was taken from an interview Mr. King did with a staff member of the Paris Review.
Comments: Mr. King is a writing giant, well worthy of further study. Readers can find a wealthy resource on the art of writing in Mr. King’s book, ‘On Writing’.
Appreciate any and all comments. Cheers! And keep on writing…..