The most important lesson learnt: you don’t need to drink to let the imagination flow or become a poet. Actually, it almost always makes you do weird stuff. Like texting when drunk. Never a good idea. Me? I accepted my marriage proposal on one such night. Got away well though, my guardian angels must have been on full duty that day. Still happily married with two kids. And it certainly did. I felt relaxed, distressed and quite optimistic, God knows why, about getting the editing done within the timeline I had set myself. I even felt that I hadn’t done all too bad, especially on some topics in the novel that were really difficult for me to write, because I so often felt like it was just too much and that I didn’t have any competence or right to write about it. Another line says about the same thing, and I feel like I’ve said these same words about a hundred times to my own children: “Sometimes you have to go on even when you don’t feel like it.” And I’ll usually add something along the lines of: “You’ll be happy and oh so proud afterwards when you’ve done it.” Sometimes it’s also just about just listening to your own words I guess, the things that you know deep inside to be true, but that somehow, once you’re an adult, you feel that they don’t really apply to you.
A last of the many lessons learnt by reading his story, and mostly, the short recollection of his youth and adulthood before becoming the famous and brilliant author that he is today, is that he just went on writing, producing a story, sending it in, starting on the next one and so on, no matter the outcome. And that is exactly what I intend to do. Finish the story, send it in. Start on the next one. Forget about the first one and that it certainly never will succeed. But once I’ll have overcome all these demons that have been whispering in my ear that I’m losing my time over something that I am not very talented at, finished an actual book and even dared send it in to an editor, well that’s quite a victory for me.
Last time, I took my eldest one out for a run. She had been begging me to take her for some time already, so off we went. And each time she felt like giving up, I pushed her a bit, told her that after the hill there would be a descent that would feel like peanuts… And so we managed our first run together. Next day, I went alone for a run and there was that same old hill again that I despise so much. I thought to myself: Oh what the heck, I’ll just do the rest walking and then take up again downhill. But I felt like I was cheating. What about all the encouragement and strong phrases I had given my daughter only 24 hours earlier. If she managed and went through with it, wasn’t it only fair that I lived by the same standards?
Here again, King’s words may help push you forward, if you remind yourself of some bits such as: “… stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea.” Of course it is. Because that’s kind of rule number 1 that you use when raising your children, isn’t it? You make them do stuff they don’t really want to do, that they think they’re incapable of doing, because you hope that it’s going to toughen them up and prepare them for life, and teach them how to deal with these small barriers and get enough self-confidence to attack them and jump over them.
But on more than one occasion, he explains, rather bluntly, that writing is work, that it is fun, obviously, for someone who is going to do it with no prospect of ever earning money that way, but that you just have to go through with it. When I was editing the last piece of my novel, I decided, one day when I felt more than usually overwhelmed by the workload, the difficulty of the task, and all other things submerging me in everyday life, I decided to read it once again, not especially because I expected to find a golden rule or something that would make editing actually fun – I knew from the start that it would be a pain-stakingly gruesome phase to go through, a bit like being a teenager – but simply because it always does me good.
If you read only one book on writing, read this one and only this one. It was the one book that made me feel like I could actually do this. And as Stephen King has most certainly nothing to prove anymore (hell, he has published 55 novels!!) he has the one thing that no other book has. Exactly that one thing: nothing to prove. He just tells his story, with all the less glamorous details, the ups and downs, and above all, lots of humor and anecdotes, but without ever making you feel like you are supposed to feel sorry and wipe away a silent tear. Just no nonsense, straight, utterly well-written and perfect.