So I reached (actually exceeded) goal for the first week of the BranTina Book Club (friends who read together stay together 😁). We agreed on a pace of 10 ppd/70 ppw and I reached pg 75 on day 7. By this point we’ve met two of the gifted children, one of them through tragic means. One’s a TP, the other a TK. We think we know who’s going to eventually bust them out of the institute. Early on Uncle Stevie had me worried with that damn birds-eye-view narrative approach that felt a little plot-less in the earlier pages but it’s compelling now and I’m all in. King nerd that she is, Tina’s calling for a Charlie McGee cameo in this one, all things considered 🤓
In honor of Stephen “Uncle Stevie” King’s birthday this week (Sept 21st) I am going to forego our regularly scheduled programming in favor of five poignant quotes from Mr. King’s book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft that I bookmarked with lots of Post-it Notes so many years ago. By the way, this isn’t the first time Uncle Stevie’s been quoted here recently.
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”
“Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.”
“It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”
“Put your vocabulary on the top shelf of your toolbox, and don’t make any conscious effort to improve it. (You’ll be doing that as you read, of course … but that comes later.) One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones. This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes. The pet is embarrassed and the person who committed this act of premeditated cuteness should be even more embarrassed.
“I’m not trying to get you to talk dirty, only plain and direct. Remember that the basic rule of vocabulary is use the first word that comes to your mind, if it is appropriate and colorful. If you hesitate and cogitate, you will come up with another word—of course you will, there’s always another word—but it probably won’t be as good as your first one, or as close to what you really mean.”
“Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference.”
Yes, I’m filing this a bit late. It’s my birthday weekend, so I’ve taken it easy today (I have Monday off from work as well). I had originally intended to write and post a Ruckin’ With You column for this week, but alas. I’ll either produce it in a couple of days, or just wait until later in the week. I also need to do a Workbook update (I skipped the August-into-September one). At any rate, I do remain committed to composing a blog entry that uncorks my headspace on a weekly basis, though.
So until next time, keep reading, keep writing, keep rocking.
Writing novels is a little like playing baseball where the game goes on for as long as it needs to, even if that means 20 innings. Writing short stories is more like playing basketball or football, you’re competing against the clock, as well as the other team.
When it comes to writing fiction, long or short, the learning curve never ends.
— Taken from the introduction to The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (2015).
In searching Google for an image of the master storyteller, I came to realize that there are countless quotes of the man out there. And they’re all so damned astute and poignant, which is the norm with him. I’ve quoted him here and abroad before. With so many great quotes in abundance I might have to start making this a Friday ritual around here. Friday Uncle Stevie Quote Day or something.
I’m only half-joking.
I am probably predominantly a genre writer and reader, if we’re going with labels and categories (and let’s face it, that’s what happens in publishing whether we like it or not). Of course I’ve read and written literary fiction as well in my long years of doing this, and I appreciate a great deal of the literary stuff. You could say that most of the micro & flash fiction I write and read is of a more literary nature, however, like I said earlier this week in The Morning Muse, I still usually require a strong sense of story, regardless of length or category. When I was a fiction editor that was one of my major requirements of the pieces I considered for awarding the gift of publication, regardless of word count. Still, for the majority of my fiction buying money and precious reading time, it’s genre fiction for me – crime, dark fantasy, horror, paranormal, science fiction, supernatural, suspense, thrillers, urban fantasy, a slew of sub-genres and more. It’s just what I dig most.
I am reminded of what I once heard Stephen King say a few years back in a video interview (topic begins at the 7:20 mark). Essentially he said literary fiction (or “literature”) is often about extraordinary people in ordinary circumstances, and genre fiction (aka “popular fiction”) is generally about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.
Breaking it down that way, I suppose my favorite of the two to read in long form is the normal Joe or Jane who struggles against abnormal situations, and terrible odds, and trials and tribulations that they must overcome just to try to get back to that normal life, rather than the exceptional (sometimes haughty) individual who stands out in the crowd of otherwise unremarkable people doing mundane things. Unsurprisingly that extends to the long fiction I write as well.
I think I might touch upon this some more later in The Evening Muse. In the meantime, check out this interview with Uncle Stevie from around the time Under the Dome was published (2009?).