We don’t say thank you often enough, and we should. I don’t know a struggling writer who hasn’t been pulled up out of the depths by a critique partner, spouse or good friend at some point or other. Writing is such a solitary thing that we often forget there are people who support us and keep us going. Maybe it’s another writer, maybe not. November is the month to say thank you to that special person (or people) who help you make it through each day and each page. Over at the YA Buccaneers, we’re saying Thank You! Please join us….
Today, I’d like to thank Stephen King. Maybe first, I should thank my 10th Grade English teacher for introducing me to King’s works. Without his assignment about different writing styles, I never would have picked up a horror novel in my life. But he got me hooked, and I haven’t looked back since.
I don’t know that I ever considered writing as a possible career until I had several of King’s novels under my belt. At first, I wasn’t even aware of the craft that was needed to create these delicious, exciting reads. To me, King was just doing what he did, and that’s all that mattered to me. What I loved the most were the richly drawn characters, all with their own voices and humour and usually a deep sadness in their histories. I started to pay attention.
The first Stephen King book I ever read was CUJO. It scared the life out of me…but in a good way! The book that stuck with me the most as a teen, however, was PET SEMATARY. It’s one of the only pieces of “light” reading where I remember the names of the characters. I think it struck me so deep because I’d just lost a beloved family pet at the time, and oh…I considered it, I really did.
When I was fresh out of University, he released his first book about the craft, called ON WRITING. At that point, I’d been dabbling in some writing of my own, trying to figure out how to complete a book. I remember going to the library (the same one where I work now) and carefully typing the title into one of the catalog computers. My heart was beating so fast….I knew that if I took this book out, there was no going back. I was committing to becoming a “writer”. I mean, who took out books about how to write except people who wanted to be authors? 🙂
The book wasn’t on the shelf, and I was too embarrassed/nervous/excited to ask someone to help me find it, so I remember leaving the library a little deflated. I’m pretty sure I went out and bought it later that day. Or the next. It wasn’t long after, I’m sure of that.
And then I read it. From cover to cover, with a highlighter and a pencil. Then, I got out sticky notes and applied them to the pages I needed to read again. Once I’d done as much as I could there, I went back and took my favourite ideas and wrote them on pieces of paper and stuck them all around the house where I could read them…..doing dishes, laundry, brushing my teeth.
I still read ON WRITING every year. As I progress in my own craft, I understand things that I missed on previous readings. I only wish he’d do a new version, with updated chapters, and a new reading list. (In the first edition, I read through almost all of the books on his suggested reading list and found many new favourite authors because of it. In the latest edition, sent to me by my wonderful writer-friend and critique partner, Erin, I haven’t gone through as many, but still loved looking at it.)
So, a BIG thank you must go to Stephen King for inspiring me through your words, through your teachings and through your determination. Maybe someday I’ll be able to thank you in person.
If there is a writer (famous or not-famous-yet) in your life that you’d like to thank, feel free to share our badge on your own website!