STEPHEN KING SHOULD CONTINUE WRITING “THE PLANT,” AND WHY IT MATTERS Arguably “The Plant,” Stephen King's epistolary novel, is his unfinished masterpiece. And he should continue writing it. Why? Without a doubt the reasons are multiple and varied, as I will explain below. Stephen King wrote “The Plant” and published it as an experiment of sorts, since it appeared online in digital form. He also published it through his own Philtrum Press, as a limited edition, and gave out copies of a different version as “funky Christmas cards,” as he himself has described it, to his relatives and friends. It is important to note that this happened before the well-earned fame and the media blitz accorded to The Stand, It, The Dark Tower or any of his other major works. My contention is that early King was not tainted by phenomenal success, so he had nothing to lose (and everything to gain) by composing a work with such a bizarre (even for him), unheard of premise and unusual format: a work which is unapologetically grossed out and creepy. Equally as important—and this point is crucial in my reasoning—in “The Plant” we encounter Stephen King writing at fever pitch, with no holds barred and no censorship--incarnate in his creative energy and inventive zeal. In essence, with the four-barrel (shades of Christine and From a Buick Eight) carburetor of his imagination wide open. No wonder Harlan Ellison, as quoted in The Stephen King Companion (edited by George Beahm), states on p. 111: “. . . those of us who have been privileged to read the first couple of sections of The Plant . . . perceive a talent of uncommon dimensions.” Writing of “uncommon dimensions” is what Stephen King brings to “The Plant.” Among all his other works, “The Plant” is unique in that it is written as an epistolary novel, as were Frankenstein and Dracula, and it appeared in digital format as well as in print. It is this uncommonness, this uniqueness in execution and writing ability, this synergy of artist and his creation, which moves me to consider it his unfinished masterpiece. If it is unfinished, this begs the question: Why doesn't he finish it? The reasons here may also be multiple and varied. One of the primary ones I can think of, and which immediately comes to mind, is: The man has lost the inspiration, the initial thread, as it were. Consider that he began the work in the early eighties, and much water has passed under the bridge since then. This might result a stumbling block for a writer of mediocre talent, but for Stephen King, who has been publishing successfully for over three decades, it should not represent any insurmountable hurdle. I am aware, however, that though inspiration might not be an impediment, his other obligations and commitments could be. Inspiration (or the lack thereof) aside, there is also the prickly issue of the fans, those who paid to read it initially and were “left in the lurch,” so to speak. To paraphrase Lincoln: You cannot please all of the people all of the time. Diehard fans, I'm sure, will not begrudge Stephen King his decision to cease digital publication of the work. After all, such an action was his prerogative. And I am certain that most fans will cast ill feeling to the winds and welcome the work's continuation. Let bygones be bygones. Forgive and forget. Having consider the major issues, why does it matter that he should finish it? It matters precisely because it is his unfinished masterpiece, and Mr. King is a true artist. In a very real sense he owes it, if not to the fans, then to himself. Imagine if Picasso had never completed Guernica, what a loss this would have meant to the artistic world. I believe, then, that “The Plant” is Stephen King's Guernica, and it would mean a terrible loss to the literary world, in particular to the horror genre, if he were never to complete it. There are other reasons why it matters that he should continue with it as well. The main one is: Stephen King fans would welcome it, embrace it, like the birth of a long-awaited child, naked and unadorned but fully formed, complete. I am referring here to diehard fans, fans who positively love his work, fans who in scope and degree are comparable to the fan who is Annie Wilkes, in scope and degree, without the mayhem. The other main reason he should continue with the work and finish it is this: It matters to the genre of horror that he do so. Since I have described “The Plant” as Stephen King's unfinished masterpiece, the genre of contemporary horror would be an incomplete canon without it. Think of the Western Canon without Hamlet, or the horror genre without Dracula. Not that Stephen King is either Shakespeare or Bram Stoker—-or even a classic (not yet)---but in another time and place, a time and place that has “moved on,” he could be. Given the reasons and arguments expressed above, I challenge Stephen King to continue writing “The Plant,” and, if Ka-tet wills it—to finish it. The man himself has stated, “. . . I reserve the right to continue the story, and to continue posting further installments.” Consider, then, what it would mean to relive the magic, to revisit the dark and delicious world of Carlos Detweiller et. al. and capture once again the “awful daring,” the rare yet wonderful synergy which exists between the artist and his creation. Like looking over the shoulder of Bram Stoker as he writes Dracula. Such is the brilliant creative power of “The Plant.” So, what do you say, Mr. King? Are you willing to allow The Powers to once more freely give? If so, then the mere thought incites the mind and inflames the imagination.