Fifteen years ago I was holiday with my then-girlfriend (now wife) in Zahara de los Atunes in southern Spain. Three things are especially memorable. Mrs W told me she was pregnant; Islamist psychos flew aeroplanes into the Twin Towers in New York (the horror of which we watched unfold on a television in a village bar); and I read Stephen King’s “On Writing”.
The copy that I read then has long been lost. Perhaps I threw it out: I remember finding its presence a little intimidating. There is so much good advice and encouragement included in it that it seemed to be reproaching me for not following it. How could I have read this book yet still be slogging away as a producer of largely crap TV, instead of actually, you know, writing?
Then someone last week tweeted me one of its countless bon mots. Perhaps it was:
Fiction is the truth within the lie. Or
Description begins in the writer’s imagination but should finish in the reader’s.
I can’t remember. Stephen King quotes are pretty common on Twitter. Anyway, I bought it again and stayed up till 1.00 a.m. last night, rediscovering the wisdom and fun in its pages. I laughed at this one:
We are writers; we don’t ask one another where we get our ideas from. We know we don’t know.
Not only is it true (however unsatisfying, “I don’t know,” is the only answer to the question “Where do your ideas come from?”) it revealed something to me that had till now only been on the edge of my realisation.
And that is: I am a writer. The way that I smiled in recognition at that quote means that I am a member of a club that includes Stephen King! A lowly, just-published, starting-out, probationary member perhaps, but still…
Whether or not you like Stephen King books (and I think everyone should read at least one or two just so that you know something of one of the world’s most popular novelists) he’s pretty illustrious company.
He’s bossy too.
The road to hell is paved with adverbs.
I have just picked up Time Travelling With A Hamster and opened it at random. One one double page I found two adverbs, “expectantly”and”warily”.