Thursday, February 9, 2012
Over on a writer’s forum where I like to lurk, somebody started a discussion about the works of Stephen King. Specifically: which do you like better, his earlier stuff that he wrote while drunk off his ass, or his later works, after he cleaned up his act? A good question, and one which provoked a lively discussion.
For myself, I love his early stuff. We were both decades younger, when weird is appealing, and his doped-out brain came up with some totally full-on crazy stuff that dragged you in and never let go. (Think The Stand and It here.) Then he hit a low period, where he kind of lost his stride (From a Buick 8 sucked big time). He got it back with Duma Key. I like this new mature, sober King. He’s not the batshit-crazy writer he was in his 20s and 30s, but who among us is any more? I still look forward to a King book. I still buy them in hardcover and read through them in about a week or so. These days I can once again close the cover with a sigh of satisfaction, the way I did 30-odd years back.
Then somebody on the forum made a telling point. Say what you will about King’s writing prowess or lack of it, the man keeps writing. Drunk or sober, healthy or in agonizing pain, tanked up on booze or hopped up on pain pills, King has never once stopped writing during the last 40 years.
Let’s examine this. King doesn’t deny his alcoholism. He claims he was so wasted he doesn’t even remember writing Cujo. Somewhere in middle age he straightened out. Things were going fine until he got hit by a careless driver and wound up in the hospital. There followed a long period of recuperation during which he could only find relief from the pain by lying flat on his back on the floor. None of which put so much as a dent in his output. He even published books under a pseudonym (Richard Bachman) at the same time he was publishing as King.
Dig that. There were two of him, and neither one quit writing. Maybe Bachman slowed down a little. King kept plugging away.
There’s a lesson to be learned in this for all of us. Maybe it’s passion for writing, or he’s serious in his pursuit of his career, or obsessed, or compulsive, or just plain flat-out nuts. Doesn’t matter. This is what he does. This is what he is. King is a writer, and ain’t nothing on this earth gonna stop him from putting words on paper.
And you’re going to stand there and tell me you don’t have time to write? Or that you have a stomach ache, or you’re busy, or you’re blocked, or you’re tired, or you just don’t feel like it? I’ve used every one of those excuses on myself, sometimes several at once. Do I feel like a putz right now.
People claim persistence constitutes a huge percentage of success. Here’s the man who’s living proof. Talent and luck do play a part, but without the persistence to keep at it day after day, year after year, you might as well just pack it in.
No more excuses. If Stephen King can write a novel while lying on the floor in excruciating pain, then, by God, I can write a page today.
Be nice if I could also rake in the bucks he’s getting. Maybe that’ll come if I persist.
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And here’s where persistence pays off. Legacy, the book I spent a year farting around on and finally finished, comes out February 16. It’s now available for pre-order at www.bookstrand.com/legacy. Lots’a vampires, action, angst, and threeway sex. Pick up a copy and make me happy. Pick up the prequel, Belonging, as well and make me ecstatic. End of shameless plug.