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Linda Adams
10-01-2006, 05:12 PM
Stephen King wrote this week's column "The Writing Life" for the Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/28/AR2006092801398.html

He makes some interesting comments about writing, and particularly on writing classes.

Jamesaritchie
10-01-2006, 05:24 PM
Very good article.

kristie911
10-01-2006, 05:27 PM
Great article...the man does have a way with words.

Thanks for sharing!

Saundra Julian
10-01-2006, 05:34 PM
Being a big King fan, I loved this article!

aadams73
10-01-2006, 05:35 PM
Fantastic! Thanks, Linda.

Marlowe
10-01-2006, 06:42 PM
I can't flipping wait for Lisey's Story.

beezle
10-01-2006, 06:52 PM
Good article, I enjoyed that.

Thomma Lyn
10-01-2006, 07:11 PM
What a good read -- thanks for sharing. :)

ChunkyC
10-01-2006, 07:47 PM
Excellent! Thanks for the link, Linda. :)

Stew21
10-01-2006, 07:59 PM
great article. His description of how a writer writes reminded me so much of how I write that it inspired me. I can't wait til the kids take a nap so I can dedicate a couple hours to the WIP. :)

san_remo_ave
10-01-2006, 08:08 PM
Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed the article!

Bubastes
10-01-2006, 08:41 PM
Wonderful article. Thanks for posting the link!

ChaosTitan
10-01-2006, 09:09 PM
Great article.

I especially loved his description of the writing muse:

There is indeed a half-wild beast that lives in the thickets of each writer's imagination. It gorges on a half-cooked stew of suppositions, superstitions and half-finished stories. It's drawn by the stink of the image-making stills writers paint in their heads. The place one calls one's study or writing room is really no more than a clearing in the woods where one trains the beast (insofar as it can be trained) to come. One doesn't call it; that doesn't work. One just goes there and picks up the handiest writing implement (or turns it on) and then waits.

:D

Storyteller5
10-01-2006, 09:19 PM
Thanks for the link. How excited am I to hear another writer book coming. Last I'd heard, King said Bag of Bones would be the last book about writers.

jdkiggins
10-01-2006, 09:20 PM
Thanks for sharing, Linda. My Stephen King file is getting thicker. ;)

SpookyWriter
10-01-2006, 09:34 PM
I was curious to know what he meant by this:


This is a real thing I'm talking about, not a romanticization. As someone who has written with chronic pain, I can tell you that when it's good, it's better than the best pill.
Is he talking about real physical pain or the imaginary version that happens when the words just don't come.

Interesting read. Thanks for sharing the link.

Bubastes
10-01-2006, 09:36 PM
I was curious to know what he meant by this:

Is he talking about real physical pain or the imaginary version that happens when the words just don't come.

Interesting read. Thanks for sharing the link.

I think it's the real physical pain, probably from his accident?

ORION
10-01-2006, 09:37 PM
I think he is still in pain from the accident he had. He writes about how that affected his writing in his book "on writing."
JMHO

kristie911
10-01-2006, 09:55 PM
I'm sure that's what he's talking about...not to mention he written through addictions and he's gradually losing his sight.

jbal
10-01-2006, 10:03 PM
his muse had a gender change.
in on writing it was a man

Sassenach
10-01-2006, 10:06 PM
More evidence that Stephen King is the coolest man in the universe. If I could be pals with any writer, it'd be him. His advice is always dead-on.

Azure Skye
10-01-2006, 10:49 PM
That's a great, reassuring article.

maestrowork
10-01-2006, 11:04 PM
his muse had a gender change.
in on writing it was a man

Muses come and go. My current muse is a guy. My muse on my novel is a she.

TwentyFour
10-01-2006, 11:07 PM
More evidence that Stephen King is the coolest man in the universe. If I could be pals with any writer, it'd be him. His advice is always dead-on.
I wish he was my neighbor! But I could do without the bomb threats he gets...lol.

janetbellinger
10-01-2006, 11:08 PM
excellent. I agree completely, particularly with the bit about writing classes.

KTC
10-01-2006, 11:46 PM
What a great article. I always understood that about writing courses. You have to do things your own way...but it's great to go to the courses to meet like-minded people. That's what I like about it...the panic in the faces...the I WANT TO WRITE BUT I DON'T KNOW HOW panic. Everybody is glad to meet other people who call writing a passion...but nothing is learned. You have to come equipped...because you leave with nothing new. I know how to write, but I still hang out at writing classes. I'm glad to read Mr. King goes for long walks...I always thought that was important too. My Frodo though is named Franny. Mr. King...thank you for a great read.

badducky
10-02-2006, 12:23 AM
I also think Creative Writing courses should be requires of ayone who wants to be a professor.

I always thought it was kind of weird how I was supposed to be learning from an expert in my field when she couldn't even tell the difference between good and bad prose, good and bad pacing... Oh, she could quote Foucualt all day long. She could quote Octavio Paz with the best of them. But, ask her to explain why Robertson Davies is on the same course curriculum with Borges and she didn't understand that they aren't playing ball in the same league when it came to technique.

But, if I ruled the English Department, I'd have to go through a Ph D program, and a few years of nonsense when I could just be writing books and poking on here in the gaps to mitch and boan with you guys.

Shadow_Ferret
10-02-2006, 01:50 AM
I guess I had a few problems with the article. For instance, I have no idea what: "Most writers are actually pretty punk when it comes to explicating what they do or how it makes them feel, and why not?" means. Punk? I can't figure out what he means by that term.

I also have problems with writers who throw out terms like "bon mot" as if we all understand French or Latin or whatever that is.

So he was already losing me by the 4th paragraph.

Jamesaritchie
10-02-2006, 05:20 AM
I guess I had a few problems with the article. For instance, I have no idea what: "Most writers are actually pretty punk when it comes to explicating what they do or how it makes them feel, and why not?" means. Punk? I can't figure out what he means by that term.

I also have problems with writers who throw out terms like "bon mot" as if we all understand French or Latin or whatever that is.

So he was already losing me by the 4th paragraph.

You can find "bon mot" in your average English dictionary, so you don't have to speak French to know what it means. It simply means "a clever remark, or a witticism." It shouldn't need defined. It's actually a pretty common phrase.

Guess King just believes you shouldn't write down for an audience. He didn't assume the readers spoke French, he just assumed, I hope correctly, that the vast majority of those who read The Washinton Post should and would know what "bon mot" means because it's a common phrase, and found in English dictionaries.

As for "writers are actually pretty punk," isn't this one obvious from the context, even if you don't know what punk means?

KTC
10-02-2006, 03:38 PM
I'm with James here. Those two instances should not lose most people. I've been familiar with bon mot since I was a kid. And the punk usage is pretty self explanatory, as James said.

Shadow_Ferret
10-02-2006, 05:17 PM
I've actually only heard bon mot one other time, just recently, and haven't had a chance to get to my dictionary yet. So in my experience it isn't a common phrase.

As for punk, I still have no clue what he means on that. I don't get it from context. I know what "a punk" is. It's a person who's a jerk, but in his usage, I have no idea.

PeeDee
10-02-2006, 06:19 PM
It wasn't a bad article, but I thought that he got a little lost in his description of the muse as a scruffy little fuzzy thing. Without the metaphor, the article boiled down to "Sometimes, the muse is there with you; sometimes not. Either way, write." which I already knew.

It was a good metaphore, but I wish he'd just spoken plainly about writing. Apart from that, I very much like the idea that sometimes, the muse runs up and bites you in the leg.

Shadow_Ferret
10-02-2006, 07:00 PM
the muse runs up and bites you in the leg.

Is that what that was? I thought our house was infested with rats and I called the exterminator a few weeks back.

Explains why I haven't written anything since. :(

PeeDee
10-02-2006, 07:04 PM
You poisoned your muse! You're done in this business. better take to the streets, then.

If muses are rats, then this explains why I have no problem writing. I have three pet rats, one sitting on my shoulder right now. Who knew I was so blessed?

FergieC
10-02-2006, 07:15 PM
Good article.

One thing that particularly interested me was the idea that a muse doesn't travel well.

Do other people find that? I always find mine retreats into a hole if I stay in one place too long, and is much more lively when I'm travelling. For the actual process of completing a novel, it's vital to have a place to write, and time to write. But for the creative process itself, travel is what kick starts it for me, meeting new people, going new places. Greyhound bus stations, seedy bars and motel rooms are fantastic places to fill diaries full of writing.

I suppose the novelty wears off after a while though.

Shadow_Ferret
10-02-2006, 07:23 PM
One thing that particularly interested me was the idea that a muse doesn't travel well.

Do other people find that? I always find mine retreats into a hole if I stay in one place too long, and is much more lively when I'm travelling.

No, I haven't found that to be true. If it were I wouldn't write at all since I haven't even left the city I live in since the early 80s.

Perks
10-02-2006, 07:27 PM
It wasn't a bad article, but I thought that he got a little lost in his description of the muse as a scruffy little fuzzy thing. Without the metaphor, the article boiled down to "Sometimes, the muse is there with you; sometimes not. Either way, write." which I already knew.

To me, the metaphor is the writing (article.) Otherwise, without all the trappings, Gone With The Wind is a spunky little tramplette who marries for money and social status and ultimately feists her way right over true love. Oh, and there's a war going on. The End.

And I didn't get the impression that he writes without his muse. It sounded to me as if he was telling us that a percentage of the "the writing life" was sitting there waiting for it. I took away that one exercise to master was learning to shut up (inside my head mostly) and be attuned to it lurking at the perimeter.

Write without inspiration and what you get is a shopping list. But inspiration isn't as mystical as some would have it sound. It's a practice within the talent.

PeeDee
10-02-2006, 07:36 PM
To me, the metaphor is the writing (article.) Otherwise, without all the trappings, Gone With The Wind is a spunky little tramplet who marries for money and social status and ultimately feists her way right over true love. Oh, and there's a war going on. The End.

Of course, but that's the actual physical work of fiction in which a metaphor is a perfectly wonderful thing to have. This is a literal article about writing. I didn't mind the metaphor, but I would have liked him to just talk about writing plainly.

And I didn't get the impression that he writes without his muse. It sounded to me as if he was telling us that a percentage of the "the writing life" was sitting there waiting for it. I took away that one exercise to master was learning to shut up (inside my head mostly) and be attuned to it lurking at the perimeter.

He's said elsewhere that he can write in cold blood, if need be. I can too. A lot of writers (I hope) can. It's what you do when your muse isn't responding to your calls, you hate your manuscript....but you keep writing anyway, even though it seems like every word you write is utter tripe. Later, you might find that you can't quite remember which bits you thought were tripe and which bits you thought were really good.

Write without inspiration and what you get is a shopping list. But inspiration isn't as mystical as some would have it sound. It's a practice within the talent.

Hence, the reason why you sometimes have to write in cold blood.

Perks
10-02-2006, 07:45 PM
I didn't mind the metaphor, but I would have liked him to just talk about writing plainly.

But if it's Stephen King, you aren't ever very likely to get plain old vanilla. That's why he's a genius - even when it's plain, it ain't plain.

And he specifically said in this article that you can't "call" the muse, that writer's block was when you had inadvertently musked your space with muse repellent.

Don't burst my bubble, PeeDee. ;) This article made me feel better about my mindset these days and gave me a nudge toward what I might do to improve it. Writing without inspiration wasn't part of that solution. I have enough groceries, thank you very much.

PeeDee
10-02-2006, 07:52 PM
Don't burst my bubble, PeeDee. ;) This article made me feel better about my mindset these days and gave me a nudge toward what I might do to improve it. Writing without inspiration wasn't part of that solution. I have enough groceries, thank you very much.

I'm not trying to burst any bubbles, honest. If it helps you get on with it, then by all means, take what it gives you. I enjoyed reading it, I like Stephen King, and I'm still writing, so it obviously isn't an actual problem.

Perks
10-02-2006, 07:55 PM
I know you weren't. That was a joke. I was only giving my interpretation of the article.

PeeDee
10-02-2006, 07:56 PM
Jokes! Again with these humor! I cannot stand it!

badducky
10-02-2006, 08:13 PM
Ignore Ferret, he's just being a punk.

maestrowork
10-02-2006, 08:54 PM
Well, I like everything he said except about writing courses. Personally, I learned quite a lot from mine. I learned about the techniques such as POV, plotting, dialogue, etc. and I doubt I would have "got it" by simply reading. I might be able to imitate what I read, but I would have had no clue about the technical aspects of the writing craft. I mean, I would not know how to build a house by simply looking at architecture...

The best way of learning, of course, is all the above -- read, read, read... write, write, write... take a class or two if you want...

Did these classes make a writer out of me if I weren't one already? No. But they certainly helped me understand the craft of writing much better, and what works and what doesn't. They helped me understand the techniques and craft when I read, and then I can apply what I've learned to my own writing.

Besides, my writing classes really helped energize me. That was when I started thinking about my first novel.

I don't think Stephen King really meant that. Otherwise, why would he have written "On Writing" if he didn't think these classes, lectures, seminars, how-to books help? What was the point of "On Writing" then?

But if anyone thinks a writer class or two would make them a great writer, they may be very disappointed.

I am about to present another workshop next month, and I certainly hope that it would help other writers.

HorrorWriter
10-02-2006, 09:11 PM
Linda,
Thanks for the post! It was a great read. Words of wisdom from one of the best!