The following and all of the other episodes to come are snapshots of what goes on in my head, now and in the past. There are times none of this will make sense. There will be times when I might get lucky and the blog I post will be well constructed and will flow like a mountain stream to an awaiting lake below. Other times it will seem like the ramblings of a madman and you’ll ask yourself, “What the……?”
You should probably get used to the latter.
EPISODE ONE HUNDRED FIFTY: A WRITERS BIBLE: ON WRITING BY STEPHEN KING
There are many bibles.
There’s the New Testament, The Holy Quran, the Tripitakas, the Torah and the Talmud, Upanishads and Veda and many others. They have lead people in their religions for thousands of years.
And there are bibles in the sense that they lead us in a positive direction. It may be a textbook that you used in school that leads you to the profession you chose. Maybe it was a book of fiction that opened your mind and made you want to be something special.
As for me, there are two that influenced me more than the others. One is Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten. In reading this book multiple times over the years, it’s what I see this blog becoming.
And the book that holds all of the cards, the book that made me feel like writing was something to be proud of, the book that made me believe that I could do it, is Stephen King’s On Writing.
I have read his books for decades. All the while the love of writing was either up front and center in my mind or hiding in the back, peeking around corners when I felt that writing was beyond me. Even in my darkest days, when I felt so low that I had to look up to see the ground, the writing was always there. It was there when I didn’t believe in myself (that still happens).
I believe it was the early Summer of 1999 that I heard that he was planning a book about writing and I got excited. Maybe he would inspire me to finally get off my ass and pursue this thing that had been with me for such a long time and would help calm the disbelief that I kept with me like a head full of mind-numbing thunder. That thunder was and is self- doubt. It was and is so loud that I can’t hear the more positive voices. I hoped that this book would come soon because I needed it.
Then in June of 1999, Stephen King got hit by a van.
It laid him up for some time. In the beginning, I was worried he wouldn’t make it or he had suffered some sort of brain injury and cause any future books that he had planned to be forgotten. Of course, I was worried about him. This is a guy that I looked up to and cared about him. I read everything of his I could get my hands on and then read them multiple times. Yeah, I’m A Fan!!! I wanted him to be alright and pull through.
But that book about writing kept gnawing at me. I hoped and prayed that he would get better and finish the book if he really had really planned on writing it.
Thankfully, Stephen King got better. Over time and surgeries later, he was walking and his old self again. And he was writing.
Then in 2000, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft was published. I bought it the day it was released and finished reading it the same day, staying up well past my bedtime drinking it all in. Then, I read it again that weekend.
It was all that I hoped for. And more.
Something important about the book. It doesn’t lull you into thinking that if you write and you want to be published, it will happen. Far from it. He doesn’t write about how every writer that decides to get published will get it. He tells you the way it is. If you do all of the hard work and put in the blood, sweat, and tears, and even a part of your soul, you have the potential to get published. He lets you know that the odds are against you.
But… he gives you hope. If this is something you want, something you need to happen and you do the work plus some, you have a chance. You can see the brass ring and it’s there to grab for.
Punches are not pulled in this book. Not one. But Stephen King leaves you knowing that if you got in the ring and you keep standing up after being put on your back, you can win. Some hits will hit worse than others. Sacrifices will have to be made, scars will be given to you. And you may never make a living at it. You may never be able to lose your day job. You have to do it because you LOVE it.
Over the years, I have read this book more than a handful of times. I’ve listened to it on audiobook more than that in which it is read by the master himself. When it comes to this publication, this is the way I prefer to inhale it. I like to hear his words spoken to me, as if I’m sitting with him, looking at him and sharing this conversation in a comfortable atmosphere. I like to pretend that he has read the things I have written and he likes what he sees. He also sees the things I need to change and tells me about them. But he gives me hope that if I keep plugging along, keep putting my heart and soul into each thing I write, and above all, be honest with every word I produce, I can make it. And I’ll be good. Maybe more than good.
So, this book is a bible to me. It may not be worshipped by millions and brick and mortar churches may not be erected for its existence. There are many other books that can tell you how to write and what you should expect. I have read a few of these and they can be just as good. But they don’t speak in a language that I truly understand one hundred percent. I raised myself up on Stephen King and his books. His words to the wise and his words of encouragement mean a bit more to me than the others.
If you want to be a writer, then I would suggest you give this book a read (or listen). You can’t do much better. I’d also like to say that if you Google ‘The Best Books about Writing’, the lists you find will probably have this book on it, if not at the top. That should tell you something right there. Shouldn’t it?
On a shelf at home, I have a few books that I consider ‘reference’ books for my writing. There is a book about forensics, a book about how weapons, a book on drugs and how they are used, a pocket dictionary, a pocket thesaurus, and On Writing. As time goes on, some of those will come out and be moved and others will be put in its place.
Except for On Writing.
We tend to keep our bibles in the same place for easy reach.
Thank you, Mr. King. I’ll keep writing because I love it.
-Loyd Elmore Jr
May 31st, 2018
I’ve decided to keep a blog about how I’m dealing with depression. I’m going to consider this a form of therapy. It might not help anybody else but it might help me.