I’ve never read any of Stephen King’s works. I know he was the mastermind behind the movie Carrie. I knew he was prolific, but I didn’t know he also did the Shining. I love the Shining!
I’ve never been interested in picking up any of his books, but my writing instructor has been touting his non-fiction book “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” as one of the best writing books out there. She’s right! I’m only half-way done. I’m done with the autobiographical half, the next half is on technique.
I’ve been highlighting and underlining passages for the past week. His words make me want to write every day, to be crazy and passionate about it. The book is also somewhat of a love story. At least that’s what I’m taking away from it.
He met his wife as a young adult in a writing/poetry class and immediately fell in love with her.
He inserted the poem that he first heard her read into the book, then goes on to analyze it and how he fell in love with her:
“There was also a work-ethic in the poem that I liked, something that suggested writing poems (or stories, or essays) had as much in common with sweeping the floor as with mythy moments of revelation. There’s a place in A Raisin in the Sun where a character cries out: “I want to fly! I want to touch the sun!” to which his wife replies, “First eat your eggs.” “
Stephen and his wife marry very young, have two kids, and are still married, but why I think this is such a beautiful love story is because of their support of one another. They’re fairly poor–living on nothing, but his wife encourages him and always sticks by him. He drafts up his story on Carrie, then crumples it up, thinking it’s crap.
“The next night, when I came home, Tabby had the pages. She’d spied them while emptying my wastebacket, had shaken the cigarette ashes off the crumpled balls of paper, smoothed them out, and sat down to read them. She wanted me to go on with it. She wanted to know the rest of the story. I told her I didn’t know jack-shit about high school girls. She said she’d help me with that part. She had her chin tilted down and was smiling in that severely cute way of hers. “You’ve got something here,” she said. “I really think you do.” “
They submit the story and dream about what it would be like if it were accepted by a publishing house. Stephen thinks big: $60,000. He and his wife smile at the possibility. Stephen tries not to get his hopes up, knowing it’s a long shot, and realizing he would only get half that amount. The publisher would get the other half.
Several months later, it was accepted by Signet Books. $400,000.
Mind you, they lived in a trailer for some time. Stephen was so stunned he asked that the figure be repeated several times then again with the number of zeros after the four. After picking himself off the floor, he goes on:
“I suddenly felt that I had to buy Tabby a Mother’s Day present, something wild and extravagant. I tried, but here’s one of life’s true facts: there’s nothing really wild and extravagant for sale at LaVerdiere’s. I did the best I could. I got her a hair-dryer.
“What’s this for?” she asked.
“I took her by the shoulders. I told her about the paperback sale. She didn’t appear to understand. I told her again. Tabby looked over my shoulder at our shitty little four-room apartment, just as I had, and began to cry.”