Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Flashback

The life of Stephen King.

Stephen Edwin King was born in Portland, Maine on September 21st, 1947. He was the only biological child of Donald and Ruth King. His brother, David, had been adopted at birth two years earlier.

When he was two and David four, Stephen’s father stepped out for cigarettes one night and did not return. They have never heard from him again.

In January of 1959, Steve and Dave decided to publish and circulate their own newspaper called ‘Dave’s Rag’. They created it using an old mimeograph in the basement of their home and sold it for .05 cents a copy.

In high school, he had a few short stories published in amateur presses and small run magazines. But it wasn’t until college that he made his first sale with a short story called ‘The Glass Floor’. He was paid $35.00.

Over the next few years he married, graduated from college, and began teaching. He continued to write wherever and whenever he could. The rejection slips piled up. In 1971, he began a short story about a high school girl named Carietta White. After a few pages he decided it sucked and tossed them in the trash. His wife, Tabitha, retrieved them and convinced him to finish the story. In 1973, it sold within two months of submission. The paperback rights went for $400,000.00. At the time, Steve’s yearly salary was $6400.00. He had two children and lived in a tiny apartment outside of Bangor.

Since then he has become one of the most beloved and popular horror writers in American History. But if you think that is all that he has written, you have never read/seen Shawshank Redemption, or The Green Mile. His talent is not bound by genre. He has battled alcoholism and cocaine addiction, and he barely remembers writing some of his more popular novels but he never stopped pursuing his dream.

King has been diagnosed with a condition called macular degeneration. The ultimate result is blindness. Before that final event, his direct line of vision will grow steadily weaker but he will keep his peripheral vision longer. His take on it: ‘That's the part I want to keep, as a man and as a writer, what I see out of the corners’.

Stephen King is the perfect example of persistence in the face of adversity. I cannot find a single thing about the man not to like or admire. His is the voice in my head when the writing is hard and the hour is late.  I don’t believe there is a better role model for aspiring writers than this man…this legend.

Random Trivia:
He wrote "The Running Man", a 304-page novel, in only ten days.

After watching the first cut of Rob Reiner 's Stand by Me (1986), he was said to be crying and stated it was the closest adaptation to one of his novels he'd ever seen.

When asked, "How do you write?", he invariably answers, "One word at a time".


  1. Inspiring! I confess I haven't gotten around to reading his books, since horror is so NOT my thing, but now I know I can check out The Green Mile and Shawshank Redemption (which was an awesome movie).

  2. Excellent post! He truly is the greatest in our field...something we all aspire to be.

    And now when I feel like I can't make it to the end of my WIP, I'll remember that he wrote "The Running Man" in only 10 days! WOW!

  3. I totally admire the man. Great post!

    If you (or anyone you know)write romance and are searching for a crit group, check out my blog. We're hosting a contest to find a new member for our group. Otherwise, would you mind spreading the word? I'd hate for someone to miss out on this. Thanks.

    Lynnette Labelle

  4. My all-time favorite book ever is The Stand. So I guess that would make him my favorite author. I mostly like his early stuff, though. Can you imagine being Stephen King's dad...I wonder if his dad has sat back and watched his career knowing that's his son?

  5. Such a great story. I love Stephen King. Persistence is the key to being a writer!! :)

  6. Appreciate this bio! Stephen King is one of my hero/writers.

  7. Nice tribute to a living writer. Great job! My fave is Needful Things.

    Anytime one of my friends and I, while shopping, decide to buy something utterly useless, that we have to have, we look at each other and say, "Needful Things." We both read that book at the same time and that's how the joke started.

  8. Wow Marsha thank you so much for sharing. It's incredible to learn about someone that you've loved for years as a writer and get to know him a little more personably. Truly an amazing writer.

  9. Great post! I love ON WRITING, and I think he's a true inspiration. I mean, dang, even Stephen King got rejections. While I'm hardly Stephen King, I can definitely persist and be the best writer I can be. :)

  10. When "The Shining" came out and all the weirdos were going on about how wonderful it was, I thought they were probably just a bunch of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" fans and dismissed it as pop culture literature...then my wife bought a copy and I picked it up one day wondering what all the fuss was about. I was amazed. I haven't read anything of his in probably twenty years but after seeing your post...I will remedy that.

  11. Hi Marsha! Sorry I'm so late to the party! No internet until today. I do love me some Stephen... I really think his wife and he have a wonderful love story. I'm still wading through Under the Dome. I've read just about everything else he's written commercially.

  12. Wow! His comments are awesome. I don't do well reading his books, but I love watching the adaptions! (Seems I like reading YA, light fantasy and women's fiction, but I'll watch just about anything. Odd, eh?)


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