The answer to life, the universe and everything, including why I write…

Stephen King at the Harvard Book Store.
Stephen King at the Harvard Book Store. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

42…

I just had to get that one out of the way. And now, on we go.

I looked at the writing challenge for this week and after a few moments of furious debate with myself decided to give it a giant pass.

Well, sort of a giant pass. It got me thinking, really. I started thinking about when I decided I wanted to write. And how that came about. And who influenced me. And…

And then I realized that even though I have won awards, been published and paid for my writing many, many times, and that for the past many years, I’ve made my living primarily because of my ability to write, and write well, I only recently started considering myself a “writer.”

That in itself is a long story, full of political incorrectness and stuff. And the editor in me says it doesn’t belong in this post.

Suffice to say, I finally realized if you express yourself in written words, you are a writer. Whether good or bad is open for debate. Every now and then, I even think of myself as a pretty good writer.

When I was young, I was a voracious reader. I devoured everything I could get my hands on. When in 9th grade, I refused to read Lord of the Flies a second time (I’d read it in 8th grade). My wise English teacher offered me A Separate Peace instead. While the rest of the class plodded through their book, I went through that, and Catcher in the Rye plus one other totally forgettable novel.

Somewhere along the line I discovered Poe and Lovecraft and then Stephen King, and a lifelong love of horror was born.

It’s King I turned to for this piece. Not to imitate, no… because that would turn a short blog post into a gigantic tome. But his personal, real man tone is what made his stories so catchy, and so frightening.

What I always loved about King’s writing, and what I’ve worked to achieve in my own, is the tone of reality. No matter how fantastical the set up, no matter how far fetched the plot, King could reel you in with sheer humanity.

Over the years, I’ve had to write in a variety of styles not my own, and I’ve turned to various writers to get “in the mood.”

Judith Martin is my favorite for crafting pieces that require acerbic wit combined with impeccable manners and well-thought-out phrases. If I need inspiration for marketing I turn to Dr. Seuss (yes, you read that right!). I have a variety of authors to whom I turn for inspiration of various sorts.

But in the dark of night, when it’s just me and the glowing screen, I don’t want polite. I don’t want funny. I want raw. I want real. I want King.

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