Thursday, June 21, 2012

Inspirational: The Author Stephen King

I'd always considered Stephen King an author of horror fiction but after reading the article by Neil Gaiman*, realise that not only does King write horror but he also writes novels across other genres exceptionally well.

Back in school, I would inhale his books literally. Who doesn't get freaked out by Carrie and Pet Cemetery? On the opposite side of the genre spectrum, he also wrote The Green Mile and the Shawshank Redeption which was adapted into a movie which is still awesome.

His Charitable Endeavors

He's inspirational because his private charity, King Foundation gives to many charities. King does discuss the fruitlessness of donating to charities:
"We all sit down and give away money. That's frustrating. Every year we give away the same money to different people...It's like chucking money into a hole. That's frustrating."
His Poverty In Early Days

King and his wife Tabitha were very poor when he first out as an author. It never occured to me to wonder about his background and whether he drew from his life experiences:
"Tabby came from nothing. I came from nothing, we were terrified that they would take this thing away from us. So if the people wanted to say, 'You're this', as long as the books sold, that was fine. I thought, 'I am going to zip my lip and write what I want to write'...I was convinced they would take this all away from me and I was going to be living with three kids in a rental house again, that it was just too good to be true..." 

Of Stephen King and Tabitha's poverty in their early days, Gaiman writes that:
"He couldn't get a teaching position when he graduated, so he worked in an industrial laundromat, and pumped gas, and worked as a janitor, supplementing his meagre income with occasional stories...They were dirt poor. They lived in a trailer and King wrote at a makeshift desk between the washer and the dryer. All that changed in 1974 with the paperback sale of Carrie for $200,000."
 Around 1985, eleven years after he sold Carrie, he finally started to relax and think, "This is good, this is going to be okay." That's responsibility for you. And the acknowledgment of the transient nature of being an author or an artist of any sort. Are you going to be a one hit wonder or will you actually get to build a career in the arts or publishing industry?

King is an amazingly successful author with approximately 350 million books sold to date. Even with all his successes he can still say,  
"I am just a common person and I have this one talent that I use....Nothing bores me more than to be in New York and have dinner in a big fancy restaurant where you have to sit for three f....king hours. You know, and people will have drinks before, wine after, then three courses, then they want coffee and all the rest of this crap..."
 His Passion
 "They pay me absurd amounts of money for something that I would do for free."

Reading Gaiman's interview, I'm struck by the thought that writing is so natural to him that he says,  
 "I didn't know that the guy who did do it was going to be there, didn't know anything, about how it happened, but when I wrote it, it was all just there for me. You just take it. Everything just fits together like it existed before. I never think of stories as made things; I think of them as found things. As if you pull them out of the ground."

His Writing Habits

I find this quote the most fascinating. For someone who has been an author for many decades to never run out of ideas, to keep writing daily simply because he loves it:
"I sit down maybe at quarter past eight in the morning and I work until quarter to 12 and for that period of time, everything is real. I think I probably write 1200 to 1500 words. It's six pages."

People who are passionate or really obsessed by something are really fascinating. They seem to have so much life, such enthusiasm and pleasure. After reading that interview, Stephen King was no longer the horror author in my mind but a very passionate writer who really loves and enjoys his craft.

Readers and food for thought: Are you passionate about any aspects of your life? Your work? Your interests and hobbies? 

* 'The King And I' by Neil Gaiman, Good Weekend (05/05/2012)

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