Sunday, February 17, 2013

Thank You Stephen King

Years ago I read his book On Writing. If you're a writer, and you haven't read it, do. It changed my life. But on to my story.

At 1:30 a.m. I woke, then tossed and turned for another hour. Finally, with sleep far away and Hemingway's saw in my head, I rose.

"Write one true sentence."

Water on to boil, I chopped fresh ginger for a warming brew, then settled in to my chair to do just that. What I wrote wasn't important. Not to you, anyway. But it was true.

Then I wrote another one. And another.

Before I knew it, I'd written lots of true sentences and received clarity on an issue that has appeared in my life, one I've been avoiding, known I was avoiding and watched myself avoid until the avoidance became downright rudeness. Bad business, avoidance. One of my coping (or not coping) mechanisms.

Done with that, I opened my manuscript, noting it had been last accessed on February 10th. Uh huh. A week ago. But it gets worse. I haven't done anything substantial to Peace Makers for over a month. Since finishing the first draft.

At first I justified spending my precious evenings watching Netflix. "I deserve a break after working day and night, don't I? But the last chapter needs work and the top-level bad guy needs further development. Oh come on, let's watch another episode of Eureka, now there's some wild imagination at work. It's great for the creative juices."

So not a word written, nor paragraph edited. My writer-esteem suffers. Recently, my justifying mind pulled Stephen King out of the hat. "Oh yeah! Didn't he say he always puts his first draft away for a length of time before going back to it? Yes he did. See. If Steve does it..."

In need of solace, I found my copy of On Writing and opened it, quite amazingly, to the exact section I needed. And got so much more than I was looking for. Confirmation. Validation. Direction. Advise. Commiseration. And laughter: the man's a master wordsmith with a wicked sense of humor.

Doubts allayed, esteem and resolve renewed, I'm off to pen a short note to a new friend. It's time to get beyond avoidance.

Then I'm going back to bed.

~ Olivia J. Herrell
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