The (often) ugly days of the early writer
It’s amazing the difference sitting down and actually working makes. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, even when I was a little boy. The moment I decided for sure was probably around the time my underused little mind aged eight years. I saw a movie for the first time, and although it’s just an ok movie there’s a portion that stuck with me; haunted me.
The movie was “Stand By Me” (This was before I’d even discovered Stephen King so you can’t blame it on that). The scene where the boys are sitting out in the woods and they all beg Gordy for a story and, without complaining, he tells an intricate little story so mature, but then again so quintessentially teen. He tells this story with so much moxy and vigor that when he finishes the other boys all groan, laugh and fall about the place. It’s just a movie sure, but while other people would laugh and shake thier heads, I was enthralled. That was so cool! I thought. Two years later I read an introduction to the “Bachman Books” and in it, Stephen King says that in his head there are many people and they all have a history. The more he looks at them the more the story of their lives takes shape. He also said a majority of his stories started because he would see an image and ask What if?
What if a rabid dog trapped a woman and her child in a car?
What if there were a monster in the sewer?
What if there were a monster in the closet?
What if a little shop of curiosities was owned by the devil?
Once the question was asked, one of the residing characters would take up the mantle and beg for the story to be told.
I thought Holy Crap! Thats me!
So I pulled out a type writer and fed the paper in, relishing the warm toner smell and the crispness of the the fresh paper. I got swept away by the hum of the typewriter and I came up with “The Heavy Metal Bands” and I never looked back.
“The Heavy Metal Bands” was a story of how a few friends got together and formed a heavy metal band, then because of their strong personalities they also became a gang. Somehow this worked in my pre-teen mind. That story spurned four more stories, ending with the lads saving the world. All told, all five of those stories filled out about 4 pages worth of text.
Then I moved onto other things (Like the Marty Brothers, based on myself and my brother Steve; an echo of the Hardy Boys), but length was always an issue. I couldn’t seem to write anything longer than four or five pages. I got so disturbed by this that most of the things I wrote were bulbous unwieldy ten page stories, with more filler than a Twinkies.
I hadn’t yet found out what I was doing, but I thought the point would be length, the story had to be longer for anyone to read it. I started to read a lot at this point, trying to see how people did it and getting lost in their stories in the process. Then my senior year in high school I took a creative writing class, and where almost everything I did during that class was horrible, but I got to see how others wrote and what their process was. I hated the class but it did give me more perspective and a deeper desire to write more.
It’s been a challenge. My whole life I’ve struggled with the juxtaposition of the desire to write and the lack of writing talent. how many people in the world are like this? how many people who strive to actors love the craft, but have no skill? What about painters? What give these people success when only one out of a million people are born talents at what they desire to do.
Stephen King was born with drive and talent, and he’s successful beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. I have drive, I wonder where I’ll end up…