Marchbooks' Blog

July 14, 2009

Thoughts on Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ by Janus Kane

Filed under: On Writing and Publishing — marchbooks @ 8:38 pm
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I recently finished reading Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ for the second time. What a wonderful addition to any writer’s library. The first time I read it, I was on vacation. Understandably, it did not get my undivided attention, but I didn’t fret. I knew that it was a book I would be returning to.

Stephen King is a very generous author – he does not seem to hold much back. The first half of the book is a delicious buffet of reminiscences; the history that brought him to the typewriter and kept him there. For someone who admits to only spotty childhood memories, he manages to give us the full flavor of the experience.

Although it is autobiographical (not my first choice in reading matter), it is peppered with so many lively anecdotes and injected with so much humor, that I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion. It is such a departure from his traditional horror/fiction, but he handles the transition with ease.

King then moves on to the nuts and bolts of his writing process. There is not much by way of revelation in this material but his analogies are interesting and thought-provoking. He begins by summing up his thoughts on what writing is. To King, (if I can paraphrase) writing is a form of telepathy between author and reader. It is an interesting concept that rings true to my ear. King takes you through an exercise where he ‘telepathically’ plants the image of a table covered with a red cloth. A cage, containing a rabbit with the number eight on its back, sits on the table.

That image, like so many that he has drawn before, easily takes shape in my mind. I cannot dispute the fact that writing is, in fact, a type of telepathy, sending stories, emotions and images across the miles. However, that is not the first thing that came to mind when I read the word ‘telepathy’.

I do not try to over-think it, but the question of where my own stories come from is one that trots through my head from time to time. After all, my own genesis as a writer came much later in life than did Mr. King’s. It is a strange and humbling experience, the first time you see a story take shape beneath your pen. Even stranger still is when you see that story take a U-turn, following a direction that you never anticipated.

My recently completed novel, ‘Fate Laughs’, was originally meant to follow a 15-year old Southern girl through the fallout resulting from an unexpected interracial relationship. Suffice it to say, the story took many twists and turns before it touched on that particular social aspect. Was it planned, plotted or contrived? Not in the least. I just put my pen to the paper and followed where it led.

That is what I think of when I hear the word ‘telepathy’ in relationship to writing. Call it your muse, the universe or divine inspiration, these stories seem to be coming from somewhere. At least for me, it does not seem to be an act of pure creation.

When I am truly in writing mode, I have come to see myself as a receiver (much like a radio receiver). Because I generally work on more than one story at a time, I sit with my brightly colored composition notebooks piled before me. Then, I tune into the story by reading the previous chapter. Once I get a clear reception, I write until the reception gets muddy, at which time I pick up another notebook and tune into that story. It is the greatest of entertainment. I hope you enjoy the results half as much as I do.

http://www.januskane.com

 

To Be Released in August 2009

To Be Released in August 2009

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