question for Stephen King "On Writing"

Discussion in 'On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft' started by leafy, May 15, 2014.

  1. leafy
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    leafy New Member

    Stephen King,
    I started reading your books back in the eighties. I stopped in the early nineties. Even though, I had stopped, I’d still felt that excitement every time I saw a book with your name on it with those bold letters STEPHEN KING, I’d stop what I was doing, to read the back and see what this book was about. Since then, I haven’t picked up any of your books until recently. In a book store, I was looking for a book on writing. When I saw your book, I flipped through it, in hopes it wasn’t a book spelling out how full of yourself you are, and actually wrote about writing. I was happy to see that indeed you did. But something's bothered me.
    In the beginning, when I read about your childhood, and your imagination, I loved it! I had to laugh when you stung your ear, and smashed toes. Your books have always had that real life reaction for me. I would be afraid, laugh or cry for real while reading your words. I had to share this part with my family, so I started with my daughter who is almost 11. “I’m reading this new book about a writer who wrote a book about writing and..” she started giggling and said, “ he’s a writer who wrote a book about writing?” and then we both laughed. I begin to tell her about the strong man in the circus is, as she has never been to the circus. When I start to describe how you really dragged the cinder block but in your mind you were this big strong man, I had acted out each description so she got the picture as your words did for me. She smiled and looked expectantly for me to go on, and when I got to the part of the smashed toes, unfortunately, she didn’t find it as funny as I did. But she was VERY interested in you and what happened next. I shared it with my husband, he had the same reaction.
    Later on, he was actually present when I was reading the poison Ivy part, and saw my reaction. Which, obviously piqued his interest. Without the graphics, I told him the story, and this time I got a smile out of him, and then he said, “He’s a writer, he’s probably making this stuff up. I didn’t expect that being that he is also a writer, and usually sticks to the truth unless he is writing fiction. The next day I told my daughter about it, and she reacted better this time too but then, she said the exact same thing he said! I prefer to believe that what you wrote is true.
    At this point I haven’t finished your book yet, but I wanted to begin a letter to you now, because of Carrie. You formulated Carrie from two girls whom you’d known in high school. I felt very bad for those two girls. I could see carrie in how you described both. I loved Carrie! Although, I never saw myself in her but I did see myself in the two girls you describe. This scared me more than Carrie.
    Four Months Later.
    I have finished your book, and after a few months, I started it again. Again, I came to the part where you described the two girls from high school. I was disturbed enough to stop reading the book this time too. Initially, I decided not to continue the letter, or even send it. Maybe it’s that shame you talk about? I don’t know. But finishing your book, then not touching it again for a few months, then picking it up again only to have the same reaction to a part I knew existed. I didn’t expect it. I guess maybe I would have been somewhat desensitized to what you said that is troubling me (again).
    You and your classmates hated and feared Dodie and Sondra. I want to understand you, I really do.
    These two girls were like some in most high schools, a select few who were treated badly because they were ‘outcasts’ maybe? I remember high school. I got ridiculed a lot. I wore outdated clothes from bags we got from people. I decided to do stuff to them so they would be original, and the sneers and the leers changed, and slowly people started talking to me. Some just ignored me since they couldn’t ridicule me to my face anymore.
    I was clueless why they were mean to me, I mean was it really just the clothes?. I am just as clueless as to why they stopped. So one kid only had one outfit. The other had a freakizoid for a mother. (okay so maybe ‘freakin` momma’ is reason enough. I keep hearing my daughter tell me “Stop embarassing me in front of my friends!”)
    But really now, What was to fear in Sondra and Dodie? What was there to hate? For a long time I believed those kids were indeed better than me. High school creates a magnifying glass to see each of your classmates through with a powerful clarity, that you forget the person and remember only the pimples, red hair, glasses the list goes on. I am not sure if I looked through that magnifying glass, but I felt the heat of being seen through it by my peers. Each one noticing something else about me they could laugh at and then sharing with each other, so everyone came again for another look, and another laugh. There’s no place to hide in high school.
    Why did you have fear and hatred towards two girls who were ridiculed and tormented mercilessly? I am very uncomfortable. Please tell me, please explain what it is you feared. Why did you hate them?
  2. FlakeNoir
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    FlakeNoir Beta/Moderator Moderator

    leafy Stephen doesn't personally read or reply to messages posted on the MB, sorry.
  3. GNTLGNT
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    GNTLGNT Idiot in Situ and Unholy Devourer of Cookies

    ...first off dear-heart...let me welcome you to the Board....secondly, I in no way intend to answer this as Steve might if he were to have read it, but my thought is...you have already answered your own question...because of this line...
    ...most of us were never in the upper echelon of the "cool" kids, we were the nerds, the geeks, the ones who just didn't fit the eons old "perfect" high school image or personality, and those that were even more different than our already outcast selves- are to be feared, ostracized and mercilessly abused-just to assuage our own already scorched egos...the high school caste system, puts the so-called "real" oddballs at the bottom of the ladder, and though the behavior isn't pretty, is very hateful and so far from proper behavior it's ridiculous-that crucible still smokes in pretty much the same way today as it has for decades...and King, myself and others here are certainly not exempt from having done it or suffered from it...
  4. carrie's younger brother
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    carrie's younger brother Well-Known Member

    First, welcome! :howdy:

    Second, while I can never answer for SK, I can answer for me. I am someone who has been on both sides of this story. I was bullied and ridiculed for all 4 years of high school. But, I also bullied, in my own way, others. Why? Because as human beings we all fear the unknown and people like Carrie White, the two girls from SK's childhood, me, you, are all difficult to understand for many others because we stray from what others deem "normal" and therefore become the object of people's fears. Also, we want to feel secure in who we are and if that means picking on someone weaker, stranger, more different, etc., than yourself, well so be it. There's no good answer to your question. The only answer is human nature. We are all god's infallible creatures and we make mistakes. Amen.
  5. Haunted
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    Haunted My favorite place

  6. doowopgirl
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    doowopgirl very avid fan

    Welcome. I can't put it any better than GNT and CYB
  7. Bryan James
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    Bryan James Well-Known Member

    Sometimes writers just plop words that work.

    We build our individual cathedrals around them.

    [​IMG]
  8. leafy
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    leafy New Member

    So how can I ask him a question?
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  9. Dana Jean
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    Dana Jean Beta Tester/Moderator Moderator

    It seemed like we had a thread in General Discussion for random questions for Stephen. Anyone know what that was called and could you direct leafy to that?

    Other than seeing him at a book signing, I'm not sure how you can get your question answered.
  10. leafy
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    leafy New Member

    Thanks for welcoming me. I understand your take on the question.
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  11. leafy
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    leafy New Member

    yeah, true. I doubt he'd answer me at a book signing anyway. I also doubt that I would ask.
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  12. Dana Jean
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    Dana Jean Beta Tester/Moderator Moderator

    Oh, you never know. If you asked him a direct question to his face, I think he'd do his best to answer you. He's a cool guy, just so busy.
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  13. Walter Oobleck
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    Walter Oobleck keeps coming back...or going, and going, and going

    I was bothered by the same impression. I came away from those lines with the sense that Stephen King had never been the subject of bullying, not personally. Thought it made a kind of sense as often the bullies were part of a larger group, a kind of Toivo Spaghetti-Sauce/ Guido Rutabega enforcer although there were a few bullies in school who stood alone. Although King did come up with the lines from Thinner:
    “sure, we need the gypsies. we always have. because if you don't have someone to run out of town once in a while, how are you going to know you yourself belong there?”

    I think it is an argument for proof of a spiritual lack on the part of man. Men to whom God is dead worship one another, as the Crews wrote, as Dostoyevsky wrote before him, and so we must die because we have known them, known the lack that each of us has, reminded by our own spiritual lack by those found lacking among us, lacking attainment to that high standard that changes with the season or the flavor-of-the-day. We hate evidence of that lack...and if we're all the same, there is no evidence of lack, nothing to jog our memory of our own spiritual lack, believing our self full. Not the same, reminded of the lack, and so attacked. The poor will always be among us. Dostoyevky wrote, "so long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and so painfully as to find someone to worship." We tend to find communion in like causes and peoples. Bloodshed seems to be the manner in which we resolve differences. Paint a little chick with a black spot and see how long she lasts.
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  14. king family fan
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    king family fan Prolific member

    Welcome to the board
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  15. Robert Gray
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    Robert Gray Well-Known Member

    "Watch thou for the mutant." Human beings are not kind to those they perceive to be different. It is ingrained in our nature and children are closer to their nature than adults who learn to apply wisdom and restraint to their actions. When Sai King talks about the fear and negative reaction to the two girl outcasts, he is simply being honest. There isn't an intellectual reason for it. There isn't an excuse for it. That's life. I think you are trying to read too much into it when you say you want to understand King and his classmates. There isn't much to understand. They were young and didn't know any better. Clearly King, as an adult, knows how bad things were for those two girls. His stories and commentary on the memories that helped him create Carrie make that abundantly clear. I realize that isn't much solace to someone who has been designated the outcast, i.e. the mutant, but you can at least take comfort in the fact that children are rarely consciously cruel. Their reactions and actions are as much a mystery to themselves as anyone else. They aren't done cooking yet.
  16. Neesy
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    Neesy #1 fan (Annie Wilkes cousin) 1st cousin Mom's side

    I actually have had some ugly experiences with adults who are not done "cooking" yet (of the female gender) and they act like they have not progressed beyond Junior High.
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