Friday, September 2, 2011

Don't Put Carrie in the Corner

Like a good newbie, I recently picked up Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.

The cover of the edition I bought is terrific. Isn't it great peeking into a writer's workspace? And as a silly aside, I also kick my legs up on my desk during my day job, laptop in lap - it's seriously the most comfortable way to work. But I digress...

Along with being an interesting and smart read, there's a lot of wisdom in it. I just got to the part where he discusses his breakout novel, Carrie. After outlining then writing a few pages, King crumpled up the story and tossed it into the bin. He couldn't connect to Carrie (a high school girl), and didn't see the story going anywhere. His wife ended up finding the pages and saw the potentional. She convinced him to keep going, and even helped out with some of the non-paranormal horrors teenage high school girls face.

Of all his early characters, King said he learned the most from Carrie White. The two main lessons being: 

"The most important is that the writer's original perception of a character or characters may be as erroneous as the reader's. Running a close second was the realization that stopping a piece of work just because it's hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don't feel like it, and sometimes you're doing good work when it feels like all you're managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position."

Point #2 really resonates with me, and packs a more powerful pow than the typical 'don't give up' rally cry. Before Carrie, King was trailer park broke, working intense, draining hours to support his family, and slipping in one or two hours of writing every day. All of these moments lead up to a dramatic win - the kind all unpublished writers hope to have one day.

I've put almost 2.5 years now into my first book. This personally rocks because I can't count on two hands how many projects I've started, then shelved. I'm proud that I keep going with this story, even when I wanted to chuck my laptop off a tall building. Or when a newer, shinier idea popped in my head.  Or when my day job got so busy, I was getting home at 9 most nights.

And when I finally hit save for the last time - even if the story never gets published - it will still be a sweet victory.

Will post anything else I see of note in Mr. King's book - I'm sure there will be many nuggets of wisdom to choose from.

1 comment:

  1. This one's on my list, so you're inspiring me to start reading it. :)