Stephen King and the Creative Process

In an interview last week from The Atlantic:

JP: Well let’s go to the story itself, which I read today. It’s such a gut-punch of a thing — it couldn’t have been anything other than a short story, right?

SK: Yeah I think it’s only a short-story idea. The motorcycle accident made me think of this terrible crash that happened on Mother’s Day — these two women, and they were going upstate with a whole bunch of kids, and there were eight or nine fatalities, and the van was going over a hundred miles an hour, and nobody knows why. Okay? Were they arguing? Were they maybe on a cell phone? There was no alcohol involved. And I think sometimes we write a story to try and figure out what happened, to our own satisfaction.

You can read the whole thing here.

I’m asked by some folks what drives me to write; i.e., "Why you bothering with that crap?"  Well aside from the option of not having to find a real job when I retire, and Mrs. Axe’s relentless encouragement/whip-cracking, I think that last few lines above sum it up.  When I find myself imagining how unknown events unfolded, I become intrigued with telling my own story.

Some other random King quotes on writing:

"Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s."

"Monsters are real … they live inside us, and sometimes, they win."

"If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot."

"Nobody likes a clown at midnight"   (Nothing to do with writing, but I just like it.  The possibilities ….)

"You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will." (Great advice for budding authors.  I know one friend in particular who needs this advice.)

I’m not 100% in Stephen King’s corner; his later writings have been tedious and lack the beauty and style of his earlier work … and his politics are the worst kind of reactionary liberalism.  However, I have always admired both his no-nonsense approach to writing and his prolific ability to develop story after story after story, when the rest of us would have long since hung up our atrophied writing muscles. 

For those reasons, I will always thank and admire him.


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