Stephen King’s Prompt


I haven’t been writing because I’ve been reading lots of books including Stephen King’s On Writing, Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir and Lit and The Liar’s Club, Anne Patchett’s The Getaway Car, Anne Lammott’s Bird by Bird.

I’ve also read some great contemporary fiction A Little Life (which is a large book accompanied by an equally large pull) and The Girl on the Train, which was entertaining, but nothing terribly deep. I’m going to read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic soon too. I’m in the middle of Colleen Seidman Yee’s Yoga for Life. I’ve also read a lot of other things: magazines, newspapers, yoga and meditation content, blogs, short stories, and the like. It’s winter.

Wow. That’s a lot of words written by other people.

I’ve also been doing jigsaw puzzles.

I’ve also been doodling. And coloring.

I’ve been doing everything but writing.

I’m not a fan of King’s writing; I’m not against it, it’s just not my jam. I believe some of his books, the less violent ones, would appeal to me. On Writing is wonderful and he gives some very good advice; he also shares some personal history of his experiences with ear infections, when doctors lie, his adventures and tenacity as a very young writer, and about the origins of Carrie and how that book changed his life forever. He speaks admiringly and lovingly of his wife. It was she who ferreted the manuscript from the trash and told him to keep it up, that he “really had something” there. He shared in careful detail his memory and recovery of the accident that almost ended his life. I believe it is that experience that fueled his desire to passionately spur on and encourage all creative people to keep going.

King said of himself that he tries to take breaks from writing, but he realizes that when he does, he’s not quite himself. He gets twitchy and irritable. He said that the writing stabilized him.

I know why I’ve been avoiding it. I can blame it on yoga and lots of planning (I’m teaching 4 kids classes and three adult classes a week now) but no, that’s not it.

I’ve been distracted by the political freak show in my country, as I’m am legitimately concerned for how things are turning, but I have hope that something will change toward the end. Maybe Luke Skywalker will come and save the day.

I can blame it on external forces. The truth is, I’ve been fearful. Fearful of what will come out once I open the gates to the words pressing to get out.

A friend of mine I care for deeply said to me, “You can write it, get it out. You don’t have to share it.” The ego inside me says, “What’s the fun of that? Where’s the recognition?” King said, at the end of his book, that if we write or create for recognition, we are doing it for all the wrong reasons and that the recognition and “fame” becomes the draw, rather than the love of creating. King says, write for the sheer love of the craft.

And he’s right.

So in On Writing, he gives only one prompt. The book is 15 years old, so he’s no longer accepting submissions. The prompt is fantastic, and in true King form, it has a twist. I can’t share it here, because I fear I’d risk unauthorized reproduction of his work, so I’ll sum it up:

Dick and Jane fall in love but the love grows weary. Fights and envy ensue. Lots of dysfunction, passive aggressive, violence, traps, and threats fill the air. (King gives some really great details on how to make it all take shape.) The twist: it’s the woman tormenting the man. Sort of how Misery rolled out.

It’s a fascinating proposal and I’m going to jump all over it. You might not hear from me for awhile, but I assure you that this time, it’s because I’m busy writing, not busy avoiding writing.

Thank you.

ps — if you’d like the actual prompt, here’s the link.

About Grass Oil by Molly Field

follow me on twitter @mollyfieldtweet. i'm working on a memoir and i've written two books thus unpublished because i'm a scaredy cat. i hail from a Eugene O'Neill play and an Augusten Burroughs novel but i'm a married, sober straight mom. i write about parenting, mindfulness, irony, personal growth and other mysteries vividly with a bit of humor. "Grass Oil" comes from my son's description of dinner i made one night. the content of the blog is random, simple, funny and clever. stop by, it would be nice to get to know you. :)

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