Eating The Bookworm: Stephen King And I

I’m a voracious reader. It’s an addiction that started upon my entrance into geekdom with comic collecting, a pursuit I would be following even now if the price of 5-pages-per-issue of sub-standard artwork wasn’t so frickin’ high. My actual book devourment started with cheesy sci fi / fantasy novels from Alan Dean Foster, David Eddings and the like, and as I grew older my horizons quite naturally broadened. Mostly because I was hopeless with girls. When I finally did manage to figure out the boy-girl thing, the comics and books took a back seat, but I was slowly drawn back into these paper-and-prose worlds of escapism when real life convinced me to take a break now and then or risk losing what was left of my mind.

I’ve done a fair bit of reading in my 42 years, to the point that I’ve found myself buried in a book written by one of literature’s finest (as not defined by some damn Wuthering Heights-bent school curriculum) and thinking “I could write better than this. Hell, I have written better than this.” The arrogance of delusion, I suppose. There are a couple works of “art” sitting here waiting to be published, in fact, so maybe one day I can put my money where my mouth is.

With that in mind, I was recently reminded of something Stephen King once said. I’m not his biggest fan but I’ve enjoyed several of his books over the years. One of them, entitled On Writing, is basically his take on what makes a good writer versus a bad one. He offers anecdotes, advice and a number of stories related to his craft. The one slice of wisdom that has always stuck with me is “Write what you know..,” and while I have no idea if King has ever gone face-to-muzzle against a rabid dog or had dreams about being chased down by a psychotic clown, the message was and is clear. Basically, if you’ve been weaned on estrogen-charged I-Can’d-Beleev-Iss-Not-Budder cover model romance novels, you probably shouldn’t try to one-up Tom Clancy on the political thriller front.

After a recent bordering-on-frantic search for something good to read I’m thinking King’s rule should be updated as follows:

Write What You Know, But Step The Fuck Out Of Your Show-Me-The-Money Comfort Zone, Dammit.
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