Stephen King On Writing

I recently reread Stephen King’s On Writing. Let me reproduce here a few lines for my benefit.

At one place he writes,

“My wife made a crucial difference during those two years I spent teaching at Hampden (and washing sheets at New Franklin Laundry during the summer vacation). If she had suggested that the time I spent writing stories on the front porch of our rented house on Pond Street or in the laundry room of our rented trailer on Klatt Road in Hermon was wasted time, I think a lot of the heart would have gone out of me. Tabby never voiced a single doubt, however. Her support was a constant, one of the few good things I could take as a given. And whenever I see a first novel dedicated to a wife (or a husband), I smile and think, There’s someone who knows. Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don’t have to make speeches. Just believing is usually enough.”

At another place he writes,

“My story was rejected, but Forry (his friend) kept it. …..About twenty years later, while I was signing autographs at a Los Angeles bookstore, Forry turned up in line . . . with my story, single-spaced and typed with the long-vanished Royal typewriter my mom gave me for Christmas the year I was eleven. He wanted me to sign it to him, and I guess I did, although the whole encounter was so surreal I can’t be completely sure. Talk about your ghosts. Man oh man.”

At another place he writes,

“I eventually wrote a story about four magic animals who rode around in an old car, helping out little kids. … When I finished, I gave it to my mother, who sat down in the living room, put her pocketbook on the floor beside her, and read it all at once. I could tell she liked it—she laughed in all the right places—but I couldn’t tell if that was because she liked me and wanted me to feel good or because it really was good. ”You didn’t copy this one?” she asked when she had finished. I said no, I hadn’t. She said it was good enough to be in a book. Nothing anyone has said to me since has made me feel any happier.”

I completely agree when he says, “Let’s get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”