Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I Am Not Stephen King

I'm not....really. There are the obvious reasons why, of course.
I am not a man.
I am not in my sixties.
I am not a world famous, best selling author....yet.

Then there are the less obvious reasons. Stephen King oozes talent from every pore in his body. I have no doubt that he is one of the best writers in the history of the written word. For those of you who have not read his books or only tried one and then thought they were not for you, he is not just the 'Master of Horror'. He has an insight into the human condition that few of us ever achieve. He is brutally honest and completely fearless in his story telling. He has written some of the most heart wrenching beautiful stories I have ever read and the horror element is barely noticed at all.

The Green Mile
The Dark Tower Series
The Talisman

These are only a few examples. The majority of his work is dark but if you read on you will discover it is populated with acts of great love and sacrifice. He writes his characters so realistically that they could be your next door neighbor or your best friend....your obviously deranged psychopath best friend but still you get my point. He writes about real people and he knows that we are all capable of wonderful and terrible things.

For a long time he was my excuse not to write. Why bother when I could never achieve that level of genius? He is to this day the only writer that pulls me so deep into the story that my heart pounds, I break into a cold sweat, and when I'm through I know I have lived an adventure.

Stephen King's book 'On Writing' tells the story of his struggle to make it. Surprisingly, it did not happen overnight. He worked years for it and he earned it. The second half of the book is a tutorial for beginning writers. It is a must read with practical examples and good common sense advice. But he can't teach what was born within him. What pours out of him is not ordinary, cannot be taught or duplicated. He can tell us his process and maybe it works for some and doesn't for others but what we must do is find what works best for each of us. And the only way to do that is to write, and write, and then write some more.

After we rail against fate that we are not Stephen King.


  1. I am not Stephen King either, but you are the second person to mention that book and its importance this month so clearly I need to read it...

  2. Regina: You should read it! He is old school and thinks the best way to learn how to write is by doing it not sitting in a class talking about it. I think you would really like it, the first part is amazing when he talks about his struggle with being published.

  3. It's a great book. I just finished it and have been posting little portions that have sparked my interest. He's honest and honesty is something you find when admiring his advice and work.

  4. Just found your blog, it looks interesting. I liked the part of the book when he was discussing Carrie (I think, his first book). He threw it away!? Ah, that is a great lesson for writers in my book.

  5. Robert, welcome! I loved that part as well. His wife fished it out of the trash and convinced him it was actually pretty good.

    Favorite part: When his agent called him and told him 'Carrie' sold. He ran out and the only store that was open was a drugstore, so he bought his wife a new hairdryer. And she cried. Even I cried.

  6. I grew up reading Stephen King and agree, in his day, he was our generation's master of the written word. However, I feel that after his accident things just weren't the same again. I've tried and tried to get into one of his books but I'm just not feeling it. Is it me? Or did his writing start to seem repetitive and unoriginal after that? (With the exception of On Writing, of course.) I'd love to see him do something really original...something that feels like he's enjoying writing it.

  7. Stephanie, you know I still think he is incredible but funny you should say that because I think he suspects that has happened. He was talking of retirement a few years back. Said he did not want to become repetitive...likened his career to walking across a room and said he felt he has almost reached the other side.

  8. I know somebody who grew up in Maine with Stephen King and said that he is the NICEST GUY they've ever known. Nice when the people you admire are worthy of it. I'm lurking via your comment on Nathan B's sight. Good luck in your writing.

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  10. I was looking back over previous posts and found this long one from a Joseph Doyle. I deleted it and would like to say, I have no idea who you are and no this isn't really the place to rant about SK forums. I have never been on one myself and I think maybe you should get out more.

  11. Wow. I just found your blog today, and I just finished reading "On Writing" today. The funny (sad) thing is he is so intimidatingly successful I almost feel it's a silly dream to try to achieve writing success...let's keep trying anyway !


It helps to know I'm not just talking to myself.