Hello dear readers and welcome to the middle of the week. If you are feeling a little run down, if Friday is feeling a little too far away, I encourage you to check out Writer’s Quote Wednesday, a weekly event hosted by Colleen at Silver Threading. My contribution for the week is from the American novelist Stephen King.
Stephen Edwin King was born on September 21, 1947, in Portland, Maine. When King was two years old, his father left the family under the pretense of “going to buy a pack of cigarettes”, leaving his mother to raise King and his adopted older brother, David, by herself, sometimes under great financial strain. The family moved to De Pere, Wisconsin, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Stratford, Connecticut. When King was 11, the family returned to Durham, Maine, where his mother cared for her parents until their deaths. She then became a caregiver in a local residential facility for the mentally challenged.
Stephen attended the grammar school in Durham and Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. From his sophomore year at the University of Maine at Orono, he wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, THE MAINE CAMPUS. He graduated in 1970, with a B.A. in English and qualified to teach on the high school level.
He met his wife Tabitha Spruce in the stacks of the Fogler Library at the University, where they both worked as students; they married in January of 1971. As Stephen was unable to find placement as a teacher immediately, the Kings lived on his earnings as a laborer at an industrial laundry, and her student loan and savings, with an occasional boost from a short story sale to men’s magazines.
Stephen made his first professional short story sale (“The Glass Floor”) to Startling Mystery Stories in 1967. Throughout the early years of his marriage, he continued to sell stories to men’s magazines. Many were gathered into the Night Shift collection or appeared in other anthologies. In 1973, King’s first novel Carrie was accepted by publishing house Doubleday. King had thrown an early draft of the novel into the trash after becoming discouraged with his progress writing about a teenage girl with psychic powers. His wife retrieved the manuscript and encouraged him to finish it. His advance for Carrie was $2,500; King’s paperback rights later earned $400,000
King has published 54 novels, including seven under the pen name Richard Bachman, and six non-fiction books, and sold more than 350 million copies. He has written nearly 200 short stories, most of which have been collected in book collections.
Some of this book—perhaps too much—has been about how I learned to do it. Much of it has been about how you can do it better. The rest of it—and perhaps the best of it—is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.
// Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Last week I talked a bit about how hard it is to write. It is very hard and sometimes it even hurts. I’ve cried over writing, I’ve yelled over writing, I have felt wholly inadequate over writing, and I have even thought I hated writing, but I never wanted to give it up. On the contrary, I want to do more of it. I want to be completely immersed in writing.
I was talking with a friend, a creative type like myself, earlier this week about how unfulfilled we were with our day jobs and what we would want to do if we could in order to leave. I, of course, wanted to be a writer, he didn’t answer specifically, he only said he didn’t want to wake up one day and realize he was good enough all along and that the only thing that had ever been holding him back was himself.
I told him I was positive that was exactly the case.
His response to that is what interested me the most. He proceeded to lecture me about how I should just do it, I should just be a writer. He told me he believed in me and that I should believe in myself. The thing is, I never said I didn’t.
I told him that I would definitely be a writer one day but that it would take time. I told him that I was slowly making changes in my life to get me to where I wanted to be. I cannot be sure that I will write an amazing book, I cannot be sure I will be a millionaire author one day, but I do know I will write something. I will do my best and the chips will fall where they may afterward.
The thing was I think he meant to give that lecture to himself. He was the one who needed to believe in himself and I found it interesting that he appeared to be projecting what he needed on to me.
What was even more surprising though was the realization that I didn’t need to hear that other people believed in me anymore. It is nice to hear for sure but at this point, it is just a matter of finding the time, not finding the faith. What I mean is, I need solutions, not pep-talks.
I know that I can do this. I know that I should do this too. I believe I am brave enough, I am at least braver than I was a year or two ago. I want very much to start and I have a plan to make that happen.
I read Stephen King’s On Writing about a year and a half ago and it was one of the best things that I have ever done to myself. In this quote King gives us all permission to be writers, and I think the permission could extend to any creative endeavor, if you read his book you will see that the whole thing is one big permission slip and a wonderful glimpse behind the curtain to show that writing is not as much magic as it is plain hard work, even for someone like Stephen King.
It was one of the most encouraging books and after reading it I felt certain that this was something that was possible for me, if I really put my mind to it.
So go forth and be brave. You can do it and it would help to internalize that belief. We should be writers and we should begin as soon as possible.
Original image via Pixabay