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day 38: on writing

March 11, 2011

I’m a chicken.  When everyone else in high school was reading Stephen King, I passed.  The only way I got through the first half of Pet Sematary was by skipping the scariest parts, and I ultimately abandoned the book altogether in defeat.  Like everyone else I knew, I watched Misery and The Shining, but I kept my eyes covered during most of each and was left sleeping with the lights on for weeks after.

Horror is not my genre of choice.

On the other hand, the 1986 film Stand by Me (the screen adaptation of King’s novella The Body), remains one of my favorite movies.  As any of my family members can attest, I developed a deep and abiding love for the late actor River Phoenix following his performance as the beaten-but-resilient idealist Chris Chambers.  I papered my closet doors with photos torn from Tiger Beat and Teen magazines.  When River died of a drug overdose in 1993, I actually received condolence calls from old friends.

Oh, River. We hardly knew ya.

So, my early exposure to Stephen King left me thinking that: 1). reading his books was far too terrifying for the likes of me, and 2).  I’d only watch one of his film adaptations if it starred my beloved River.  Truth be told, I didn’t think much about Stephen King at all.

Then, a few years ago, my husband gave me King’s 2000 book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.  So much more than a memoir, On Writing offers advice on how (in King’s words) “a competent writer can become a good one.”  I couldn’t put it down.  I wish I remembered to take King’s advice more often (too many adverbs!  too many unnecessary details!), but the book remains a treasured gift.  It is hard to give away.

A relative of mine has just embarked on a writing project and I just couldn’t be prouder of him.  I won’t say much about his funny, subversive blog, but I will say he has more artistic talent in his pinky toe than most of us have in our whole bodies.  He sees creative inspiration where the rest of us keep walkin’ on by.  He is making his way through the world, discovering that the work that pays the rent isn’t always the same work that feeds the soul.  He’s figuring out that he can be both his day job self and his artist self, and I just love both of them.  Check out his blog here, and know that he keeps it real.  Not for kids, kids.

Day 38’s gift is Stephen King’s On Writing.  I hope he finds it as compelling as I did, and (mostly) I hope he keeps his creative light burning.

From On Writing:

“You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair–the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart.  Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.

Here’s hoping none of us come lightly to today’s blank page.  Thanks so much for showing up.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Christina permalink
    March 11, 2011 6:36 am

    Amen sister!

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