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.

WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge

5 Comments

    1. Thanks! King kind of crosses the horror boundary for people. I think it’s that humanity factor – it just depends on which books or stories you read. LOL

  1. You have a point on that humanity factor… King is about it for me in that genre… He is a brilliant writer and has a unique way of jumping out of the closet at ya. 😆 Good chatting with you.

  2. King is pissed off with literary snobs who distinguish between high and low brow writers, and that’s understandable. But it’s also understandable why someone writing horror stories and bizarre tales would be hard pressed to find admirers among seekers of truth in reality. No matter how deep the characters and their apparent conflict, there’s the supernatural element which is hard to imagine and dismissed as bogus by many, including myself. He also has a strange notion that a writer, regardless of the quality of the work, needs to be prolific, and is somewhat bemused by the fact that the likes of Joyce merely produced a handful. I find this idea rather naive. What has volume got to do with quality? Some are prolific and yet produce brilliant stuff, some continuously pour out rubbish like a leaking faucet, while still others create well crafted fiction but in large gaps (maybe they need the time or they may simply be disinclined to write in such profusion). Where’s the issue?

    1. Interesting thoughts… there are plenty of “best selling” and/or “prolific” writers who I would argue are of questionable quality and just as many amazing writers who have never been published at all. Then again, as with any art, so much is in the eye of the beholder (or in this case, reader). I love, and enjoy, a great many authors, this post, however, was about my inspiration to write and that is an even more personal thing.

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