Archive - stephen king RSS Feed

On God and King

image courtesy of photobucket.comConfession: I’m a little overwhelmed right now. Not in a bad way. Not all all. But I’ve got pages to read and projects to contribute to, and then there’s the kiddos at home for the summer with whom I want to spend time with because I know I’m going to blink my eyes and they won’t be kids anymore. There was a time when I posted here seven days a week–two guest posts plus five from me. I have no idea how I ever did that, but I do enjoy blogging immensely. Since this has been a pretty crazy-busy week, I haven’t set aside time to write like I typically do. But rather than run a repost, I wanted to share a quote I found earlier this week while I was researching my latest Why I hate Writing post.

As I’ve said many times before, I think Stephen King is a fantastic writer. I don’t read his work because I’m a science fiction or horror fan. I read King because he is a master storyteller. I’ve read some interviews with him and know a little of his background–he was raised Methodist, his wife Tabby Catholic. I’ve also read that he reads the Bible, believes in a god, just not necessarily the God, and I’m pretty sure he’s not a huge fan of organized religion.

Anyway, this quote from his epic novel The Stand has me pondering some things about trusting God. Not about whether or not to trust Him–I’m hoping to trust Him more each day–but rather how it is that some seem to have a blind trust in God. And for the record, I don’t share this quote because I necessarily agree with his assertions or his characterization of “religious mania”, it’s just got me thinking. Here’s the quote:

The beauty of religious mania is that it has the power to explain everything. Once God (or Satan) is accepted as the first cause of everything which happens in the mortal world, nothing is left to chance…or change. Once such incantatory phrases as “we now see through the glass darkly” and “mysterious are the ways He chooses His wonders to perform” are mastered, logic can be happily tossed out the window. Religious mania is one of the few infallible ways of responding to the world’s vagaries, because it totally eliminates pure accident. To the true religious maniac, it’s all on purpose.

Can blind faith be deep faith? And can a faith that’s never tested be faith at all?


Why I hate writing, Part 10: writing, reading and ranting

If you’ve read this blog for very long, you know that I prefer Twitter to Facebook. Having said that, I will also say I’ve found some great links and conversations on Facebook which don’t lend themselves to the 140 character limitation on Twitter. Such was the case last Saturday when I found the following quote via Sarah Reck’s Facebook status update:

Found this quote online today. It’s attributed to Stephen King but I haven’t found a source.

“Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.”

Like Sarah, I was unable to find the original source of this quote, but I have found a couple of articles where King has been openly critical of Meyer’s Twilight series, including an interview published in USA Weekend in February, 2009:

“…when (Richard) Matheson started to write about ordinary people and stuff, that was something that I wanted to do. I said, ‘This is the way to do it. He’s showing the way.’ I think that I serve that purpose for some writers, and that’s a good thing. Both Rowling and Meyer, they’re speaking directly to young people. … The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.”

Mr. King’s criticism isn’t just directed at Meyer, however. He goes on to say:

“Somebody who’s a terrific writer who’s been very, very successful is Jodi Picoult. You’ve got Dean Koontz, who can write like hell. And then sometimes he’s just awful. It varies. James Patterson is a terrible writer but he’s very very successful. People are attracted by the stories, by the pace and in the case of Stephenie Meyer, it’s very clear that she’s writing to a whole generation of girls and opening up kind of a safe joining of love and sex in those books. It’s exciting and it’s thrilling and it’s not particularly threatening because they’re not overtly sexual. A lot of the physical side of it is conveyed in things like the vampire will touch her forearm or run a hand over skin, and she just flushes all hot and cold. And for girls, that’s a shorthand for all the feelings that they’re not ready to deal with yet.”

I’ll admit I was caught up in the Twilight series when it first came out. Meyer is certainly no Steinbeck, or Rowling for that matter, but I did get caught up in the story. About halfway through the second book however, the story wasn’t enough. I finished the second book and began reading the third but didn’t finish it. Life’s too short to read bad books. I realize what constitutes a good or bad book is subjective, and what compels one reader to keep reading is different from another. I tend to relate to characters in the stories. I found Bella so completely annoying and self-absorbed that I no longer cared what happened to her. I don’t necessarily have to like the main character, but indifference is a real buzz kill for me. I don’t begrudge the millions of readers who loved the Twilight series and cudos to Stephanie Meyer for the incredible success of those books. I’ll save my true book snobbery for autobiographies written by celebrities and quasi-celebrities writing about themselves via a large pool of ghost writers trying to make a living. And I certainly don’t begrudge ghost writers trying to make a living.

What I’m wondering is if you think Stephen King serves the writing community by being openly critical of other writers. King has been the recipient of some of the same kind scathing criticism of his own work, and while I think he’s an incredible writer–probably the best of his generation–he’s written a few dogs himself. My personal opinion is that King’s criticism is less about professional jealousy (as some have suggested) and more about his love of the craft. He takes bad writing personally because he’s done the work, bled on the page and sacrificed so much for the love of the story.

And hey, he’s Stephen King…

What do you think about writers being openly critical of other writers? (I know they’re privately critical of them, because I know how you are, writers.)

What writers have inspired you? (Besides me. Snort!)

Sweet dreams are made of this (or not)

image courtesy of

Who among you is old enough to remember the Euryththmics? I sure do. Back in the day when they actually played music videos on MTV and VH1. Ah, good times. I loved that band immediately. Not so much because of Annie Lennox’s voice–which I think is great–but because they were freaks. Unapologetic freaks at that. Finally, some role models!

I’ve always been told I have a vivid imagination. Okay, not really. When I was a kid, the most common descriptive of me was “That girl is weird”. And perhaps to give strength to that assessment, when people told me I was weird, I always took it as a compliment. Now I’m all grown up, married to a man who is decidedly not weird, and have two children of my own.

Since my creativity wasn’t really nurtured or encouraged as a child (I’m not bitter about this, my family just didn’t know what to make of me), it gives me a huge sense of pride when I see creativity in my own kids. My son is an avid reader, and while he doesn’t write often, when he does it’s usually well written. He’s also a great golfer and a pretty decent French horn player. (In my unbiased, motherly opinion, of course.)

My daughter, while she definitely has her own distinct personality, has a tendency to think like me; to take seemingly unrelated objects and put them together to form something completely new. Sometimes the results are whimsical or even incredible functional. Other times…

Well, other times they’re just downright scary. To me, anyway. Take her latest creation:

This is a decorative dressmaker's stand. I bought it for her thinking it would be a good place hang purses, scarves or even play dress up with.

And she did use it for dress-up. This is a little ballet dress from a performance a few years ago. So far, so good.

Okay, this is where we take a little leap outside the box:

Stick horse inserted through the neck of the dressmaker's stand. Things are getting a little creepy.

Not creepy? Okay, maybe it’s just me:

How about now?

Perhaps I’ve seen The Godfather too many times. Or perhaps I’ve read too many Stephen King novels. Specifically, The Dark Tower series. Here’s an illustration from The Dark Tower:

I don’t worry about my daughter having nightmares. I don’t think she thinks there’s anything at all scary or creepy about her…whatever that thing is.

It’s MY nightmares I’m concerned about:

Sweet dreams, people! Mwha ha ha!

Why I hate writing, Part 8: The craft

Stephen King image courtesy of

If you’ve been following along at home, you may have realized by now that I don’t really hate writing. I mostly just hate bad writing, which technically would include much of my own. But I’m not very technical. Or humble. So my writing doesn’t count. Snort!

I guess there are several ways to define what constitutes good writing from bad, and what I consider great writing you might consider very lacking indeed. Stephen King has been poo-pooed in many literary circles. Personally, I think he’s a genius, and I’d be willing to bet that many of his harshest critics have never even bothered to read any of his books or simply suffer from professional jealousy. For those who think he’s sold out and writes formulaic novels and short stories to pad his bank account, again I would encourage you to read at least three of his books, and if you’ve read his books and come away thinking they’re only horror stories, I don’t suppose there’s anything I could say to you to convince you otherwise. You just don’t get it. Despite being taken lightly by the literary world, Mr. King takes the craft of writing very seriously. I love his approach to writing, and I love what he says about the craft in the Afterword of Full Dark, No Stars. The following excerpts are just a few highlights from the Great One:

When people ask me about my work, I have developed a habit of skirting the subject with jokes and humorous personal anecdotes (which you can’t quite trust; never trust anything a fiction writer says about himself). It’s a form of deflection and a little more diplomatic than the way my Yankee forebears might have answered such questions: It’s none of your business, chummy. But beneath the jokes, I take what I do very seriously, and have since I wrote my first novel, The Long Walk, at the age of eighteen.

I have little patience with writers who don’t take the job of writing seriously, and none at all with those who see the art of story-fiction as essentially worn out. It’s not worn out, and it’s not a literary game. It’s one of the vital ways in which we try to make sense of our lives, and the often terrible world we see around us. It’s the way we answer the, How can such things be? Stories that sometimes–not always, but sometimes–there’s a reason.

From the start…I felt that the best fiction was both propulsive and assaultive. It gets in your face. Sometimes it shouts in your face. I have no quarrel with literary fiction, which usually concerns itself with extraordinary people in ordinary situations, but as both a reader and a writer, I’m much more interested by ordinary people in extraordinary situations. I want to provoke an emotional, even visceral, reaction in my readers. Making them think as they read is not my deal…if the tale is good enough and the characters vivid enough, thinking will supplant emotion when the tale has been told and the book set aside (sometimes with relief)…

Here’s something else I believe: if you’re going into a very dark place…then you should take a bright light, and shine it on everything. If you don’t want to see, why in God’s name would you dare the dark at all? The great naturalist writer Frank Norris has always been one of my literary idols, and I’ve kept what he said on this subject in mind for over 40 years: “I never truckled; I never took off my hat to Fashion and held it out for pennies. By God, I told them the truth.”

But Steve, you say, you’ve made a great many pennies during your career, and as for truth…that’s variable, isn’t it? Yes, I’ve made a good amount of money writing my stories, but the money was a side effect, never the goal. Writing fiction for money is a mug’s game. And sure, truth is in the eye of the beholder. But when it comes to fiction, the writer’s only responsibility is to look for the truth inside his own heart. It won’t always be the reader’s truth, or the critic’s truth, but as long as it’s the writer’s truth–as long as he or she doesn’t truckle, or hold out his or her hat to Fashion–all is well. For writers who knowingly lie, for those who substitute unbelievable human behavior for the way people really act, I have nothing but contempt. Bad writing is more than a matter of shit syntax and faulty observation; bad writing usually arises from a stubborn refusal to tell stories about what people actually do–to face the fact, let us say, that murderers sometimes help old ladies cross the street.

~ Stephen King, Bangor, Maine, December 23 2009

There is a vunerability in King’s writing which, for me, all great writers must possess. Or as another one of my favorite writers would say, you have to be willing to write naked. Do that and you’ll have at least one loyal fan of your writing, and many more I suspect.

What say you? How do you define great writing? Do you know why you think it’s great, or do you just know?

Editor’s Note: If you haven’t read Full Dark, No Stars and are considering reading it after this post, fair warning: It is very dark. Probably some of the darkest stories I’ve read from King, and that’s saying something. But like he said, “If you don’t want to see, why in God’s name would you dare the dark at all?”

Don’t Quit until the Picture’s Complete

Ironically, this final post about not quitting until the picture is complete was never posted. Oops. Guess I quit before I was supposed to. But this is the final post in the series. Better late than never I suppose.

Next week I’ll resume my regular guest blogger Wednesday. The first one is a great short story from one of my new favorite writers.

(Excerpt from Duma Key by Stephen King)

How to Draw a Picture (Part 11)

Don’t quit until the picture’s complete. I can’t tell you if that’s the cardinal rule of art or not, I’m no teacher, but I believe those six words sum up all I’ve been trying to tell you. Talent is a wonderful thing, but it won’t carry a quitter. And there always comes a time–if the work is sincere, if it comes from that magic place where thought, memory, and emotion all merge–when you will want to quit, when you will think that if you put your pencil down your eye will dull, your memory will lapse, and the pain will end. I know all this from the last picture I drew that day–the one of the gathering on the beach. It was only a sketch, but I think that when you’re mapping hell, a sketch is all you need.

“The road must be long to the goal. There can be no other way. We may pray that the way be shorter, we may curse that it’s so endless, but there’s a reason for our steps. If the goal is worthy, the journey to it really doesn’t matter. Our purpose in life is one that is not granted by us to us, but granted by God to the people He wishes us to become. We are made new upon the road. Changed. Upon that road we grow into ourselves. Great dreams require great suffering. It must be so. Because great suffering is required to make great people, and only great people are worthy of great dreams.” ~ Billy Coffey

If you have a dream, I think the staying power of that dream has much to do with how much the dream has you. And if the dream has you, you have an obligation to see that dream through. Your dream may be a noble one, but it can also be painful. There very well be times when you’re ready to give up; to allow the pain to numb your desire to see it through. But don’t. If you have a worthy dream you also have an obligation to see that dream through. It’s been said that nothing worth having is easy to attain. Sometimes getting there is painful. But the hurt that lies in trying to turn that dream into a reality is nothing compared to the numbness that lies in giving up on that dream and looking back at the end of your life saying to yourself, “If only…”

Going Deep (Repost)

How to Draw a Picture (Part 10)
(Excerpt from Duma Key by Stephen King)

“Be prepared to see it all. If you want to create–God help you if you do, God help you if you can–don’t you dare commit the immorality of stopping on the surface. Go deep and take your fair salvage.”

How deep are you willing to go?

Do you find yourself swimming in the shallow end of life? Safer there, no? Less of a risk. It’s where most of us seem to congregate isn’t it? We choose not to go deep, where the water is murky. Too many unknowns lurking…

“How are you?”

“Fine, thanks.” (My life is a mess.)

“Work going well?”

“Can’t complain.” (There’s rumors of layoffs and I fear I’m first on the chopping block.)

“What happened at school today?”

“Nothing much…” (I just don’t fit in. I don’t have any friends.)

“Is something wrong?”

“Just tired I guess…” (Yes. Everything’s wrong. I’m hanging on as best I can, but I need you to throw me a lifeline.)

Too many of us live life on the surface and are afraid to dunk our heads and drink deeply, because those waters are murky. But those waters are really the only thing worth tasting in this life.

That’s where we will find Living water.

“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Revelation 7:17

Be brave (repost)

How to Draw a Picture (Part Eight)
(Excerpt from Duma Key by Stephen King)

Be brave. Don’t be afraid to draw the secret things. No one said art was always a zephyr; sometimes it’s a hurricane. Even then you must not hesitate or change course. Because if you tell yourself the great lie of bad art–that you are in charge–your chance at the truth will be lost. The truth isn’t always pretty. Sometimes it’s a big boy….

The bravery is in the doing, not in the showing. The truth can be hidden away again, if it’s too terrible for the world to look at. And it happens. I’m sure it happens all the time.


 When an idea comes to mind, an artist will often be consumed until he or she can breath life into it. But what about writer’s block? Or the feeling of being overwhelmed by a white canvas staring back at you? Or the chord progression that just isn’t quite cutting it? Why do you suppose that happens? How do you get past it?

I have a theory.

Would you consider the possibility that there are moments, emotions and feelings you dare not share? Things dark, sinister or shameful? So incapacitating that if you could hide them from God you would?

I’m fairly open here in my writing, but there are some things I simply cannot share; or maybe just refuse to share. I know, I know…confession is good for the soul, but some things are between God and me. For now, anyway.

One thing in particular. A story that’s been locked away for too many years. So, I’m going to heed the words of the great sage Stephen King: “The bravery is in the doing, not in the showing.” I’m going to sit down and write a story that will never be told, because “the truth can be hidden away again, if it’s too terrible for the world to look at.”

So, how about you? Do you have a story that will never be told? That you’ve hidden well?

It seeps out, you know.

Through the cracks in your heart.

Believing is also feeling (Repost)

I’m not feeling particularly wordy today, but I feel the need to explain just a bit about what was going through my jumbled little mind when doing this post. Art is so much more than the ability to paint, write or sculpt from a technical standpoint. Ten artists might see the same tree and paint it ten different ways, because so much of the creative process comes from the heart, not the head or hands. So, there you go…

How to Draw a Picture (Part 7)
(Excerpt from Duma Key by Stephen King)

Remember that “seeing is believing” puts the cart before the horse. Art is the concrete artifact of faith and expectation, the realization of a world that would otherwise be a veil of pointless consciousness stretched over a gulf of mystery. And besides — if you don’t believe what you see, who will believe your art?

Believing is also feeling.
Any artist will tell you so.

“Art is the concrete artifact of faith and expectation, the realization of a world that would otherwise be a veil of pointless consciousness stretched over a gulf of mystery.”


Keep your focus (Repost)

Note: This post was originally published on July 21, 2009. You will note at the end of the post that I mention Billy Coffey’s regular Monday post and a guest post every Wednesday. I’m taking a break from the Wednesday guest posts for now, but if you’re interested in sending in a guest post, email me at for more details. I’ll resume guest posts when this series re-run is complete.

How to Draw a Picture (Part 6)
(Excerpt from Duma Key by Stephen King)

Keep your focus. It’s the difference between a good picture and one more image cluttering up a world filled with them
Some questions I have never answered to my satisfaction, but I have drawn my own pictures and I know that when it comes to art, it’s perfectly okay to paraphrase Nietzsche: if you keep your focus, eventually your focus will keep you.

Sometimes without parole.

It is a bit of a misconception that the ADD afflicted cannot focus. As a matter of fact, I have found myself so focused on a particular project that everything else simply goes undone. My struggle is not to stay focused, but to un-focus long enough at the task at hand to attend to all the other things that demand my attention.

I used to be an avid scrapbooker. The maternal instinct kicked in and I felt compelled to document every major and minor moment of my first born’s life. This just so happened to coincide with an invitation to a Scrapbooking home party invite given to me by a friend from church. I had never heard of such a thing, but once I saw it, I was hooked.

I had to stop scrapbooking. It consumed me. While everyone else was putting together entire scrapbooks in record time, I became so obsessed with creating the perfect page for a particular picture or set of pictures that I would literally stay up all night until I got it just right. While my friends simply found a few stickers and/or coordinating papers and called it a day, that just wasn’t enough for me. Mine had to be a perfect representation of my emotional connection to the moment in which the picture was taken.

I am mostly ADD with some shining OCD moments. Allow me to give you a couple of examples:

Those are just three examples. On almost every page, I painstakingly recreated one or more elements in the picture. They’re not even that artistic, but they were accurate! At the rate I was going, I would have my son’s baby pictures finished by the time he graduated high school. I just got overwhelmed by it. I still take pictures of my kids. My daughter wants to do her own scrapbooks. At almost 8 years old, she has given me every indication that her creative prowess puts her mother to shame. So, I’m all for that.

Fast forward to May 2008. I didn’t even know what a blog was until I read my friend and pastor Jeff’s blog. What a difference a year and a couple of months can make. What started as an outlet for my outright silliness and occasional prosperity gospel rants has turned into something so much more. It is a community. Some blogs are strictly informational. Mine could hardly be called that on my best day. My husband told me his favorite part of my blog is reading the comments. I tend to agree. I know I have many readers who rarely or never leave comments. I have some readers who only stop by on Mondays, and that’s okay, too.

So what’s my focus right now? Writing. My own and the writing of people who actually know what they’re doing. Because it’s not enough to be good or even great. You need exposure. And while this blog is not exactly breaking records for traffic, it’s nothing to sneeze at.

That’s why I have two guest posts a week.

Monday will be reserved for Billy Coffey until such time as he simply gets too busy to post here. Thank you, Billy. What a privilege it is to feature your work here every week, and what a pleasure it is to know you, my friend. I won’t even say something silly like, “Don’t forget me when you’re a famous author”, because I know you better than that. You’re a real class act and I’m thrilled that the rest of the world is about to be blessed by your words just as your regular readers have been over this past year.

Each Wednesday I will feature another new guest blogger. I have been really overwhelmed at the response to this. I thought I would be scrambling to find someone willing to write for this blog, but people have been so gracious, and the result has been some excellent posts and hopefully some new readers for my guest bloggers.

I know I joke around about shamelessly self promoting myself on twitter, but I’d much rather promote someone more worthy of attention than myself. It’s the least I can do. Because it’s not about me anyway…

How do you define art? (Repost)

Lady of Shallot, image courtesy of

Excerpt from Duma Key by Stephen King:

How to Draw a Picture (Part 4)

Start with what you know, then re-invent it. Art is magic, no argument there, but all art, no matter how strange, starts in the humble everyday. Just don’t be surprised when weird flowers sprout from common soil.

How do you define art? Whether it’s painting, sculpture, music, writing – what separates the very good from the very great? Do you rely on an expert opinion? Or at the very least, does said opinion influence your objectivity?

If you agree with Mr. King’s assessment that “all art…starts in the humble everyday”, then to some extent does your emotional attachment to the familiar, to what you know, color your opinion of what is beautiful or even what is not?

Even though we all share one planet, we each live in our own separate worlds. The world I see through my eyes is different than yours. It’s colored and shaped by my own regrets and successes, my own dreams and hopes. Because of this, we are all separated from each other in a small but important way.

Art is the means by which we bridge that gap. It’s how we shout across the expanses between us and seek understanding and fellowship. It’s how we reach out of the deep holes we dig for ourselves and grasp the hand of God. Through art we turn the chaos of our lives into order and give what cannot be explained meaning. Often it isn’t the answers we’re after, but better questions.

To create something, whether a painting or a poem, is to sacrifice a part of ourselves so that we can grow. It’s to voluntarily feel the pain of hollowing out our hearts so we can feel more happiness later on. It is the ultimate risk, and the only one worth taking.

Page 1 of 3123»