Today I returned to the wonderful little slice of heaven called Fenwick Used Books and Music. I don't know the guy's name, but as promised he had a copy of Stephen King's On Writing. In addition I bought Childhood's End by a favorite author Arthur C. Clarke, and The Road to Dune by Frank and Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson. Then I went to lunch and to do laundry with a guy from my class. In an It's a Small World Way, I met Rob in Maryland, but he lives in Mississippi in the same subdivision my cousin does and we have had a few other similarities appear over the weekend (we went to DC Saturday which will undoubtably be a post soon). An enjoyable day overall, but when I got back to the hotel I started reading On Writing.
As I started reading, it became like a personal Hunger Games to me. No, I haven't read it, but EVERYONE who has (including both my middle child and wife) tells me it's a page turner they couldn't put down. I loved the description of where The Barrens came from, and I now know his brother was the inspiration for the dam scene. I suspect his ear problems were included in The Dark Half, apparently I've read a lot of King. However, I just got to the first show stopping nugget I've found. He's had nuggets, just not the nugget I needed as inspirational seed.
Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. Your stuff starts out being just for you, in other words, but then it goes out. Once you know what the story is and get it right--as right as you can, anyway--it belongs to anyone who wants to read it. Or criticize it. If you're very lucky (this is [King's] idea, not John Gould's, but I believe he would have subscribed to the notion), more will want to do the former than the latter.
Perhaps I have just discovered why so many authors I follow on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs like this book. It speaks to each of us. In different ways, with different words, but it speaks to each of us.
Back in college I went to a Baptist church with a friend. I was not raised Baptist, but the fluky church I went to was composed of mostly former Baptist preachers. On a Wednesday night in a huge auditorium (the Sunday services were televised) the preacher (Fred was his name, I forget his surname, but it was Cottage Hill Baptist Church and if you know the church you know Fred's name) talked on a lesson that absolutely fit me and my situation. I had never met Fred. Not even so much as a handshake after church yet every word from his mouth fit me exactly where I was to a T (and not the Adolus Huxley type T).
I became a Baptist for many reasons, nonetheleast of which was the fact that while it doesn't happen every time, sometimes the preacher speaks only to me. And yes, more often than not, what he speaks to me is not what he intended either with the blatant message or the latent message, but that's a matter for another time.
As a writer of a literary genre I often wonder if anyone "gets" what I'm writing. I will no longer care if people get what I write, why I write, or what I intended with it. I already write for myself, I can now do so with abandon. Whether you get the story to make it your own or just want to criticize is up to you. I need both kinds. Welcome to The Hole at the End of the Bible Belt. Hitch it up, we're going on a ride.