Tonight we are surrounded by a suitably thick fog, just right for the author of tonight’s book: Stephen King’s On Writing. We tried for an autumnal theme, with pine cones and paper leaves on the “also read” table, and with the snacks: butter cookies shaped like leaves, cranberry and blueberry nut breads, pumpkin muffins, and cider. J has also passed out the title survey for 2008. You can also access it at the Plumb Library website: www.plumblibrary.com. Look for the Cafe Parlez page, print up the list, and make your selections. Then you can either mail us the list, drop it off the next time you come in, or email your titles to firstname.lastname@example.org.
J is conducting some business before we start. There are two dvd’s available on last month’s subject: Expo, about the Chicago World’s Fair, and one on H. H. Holmes.
Housekeeping done! J is starting by talking about the cover: a window over a cellar bulkhead door. Maybe it’s supposed to represent his muse who lives in the basement, maybe supposed to represent his reading room with its closed blinds.
L says the book made her want to read a Stephen King book. G and J talk about how Stephen King (SK) takes normal people and puts them in hugely abnormal situations. J mentions the accident and how SK says that the guy that hit him could’ve been a character in one of his novels. L asks if we thing SK is bitter toward the guy who hit him. J mentions that this book was written 8 years ago, and that he may now feel differently. She mentions SK’s occasional column in the back page of Entertainment Weekly.
Many people are surprised at the conversational tone of On Writing. M is mentioning a tip that SK has on letting a book or a task “stew”, just sit aside waiting. She is impressed with his process, how he calls writing his “craft”. J wanted his instructions on writing during creative writing class in college. People agree that some writing instruction books are deadly dull.
M says that his love of writing comes through in this book. He seems very laid-back, like a normal person you could talk to.
Writing a book means needing to love to read. Folks are talking about needing to read. Some people’s ideal vacation is having a place to put their feet up and read, looking up once in a while to see your surroundings. Can’t understand people who just sit and stare into space.
His childhood: being very young and copying things down until his mother pushed him to be better than just copying. The talent and the desire to write must be there. Young children are great storytellers, the writing must be encouraged. ML mentions a critical teacher who squelched her desire to do creative writing. SK uses his rough draft to get the story out; he fixes it up later.
There’s a difference between writing to get published and writing just to do it. Great writers write because they have to. It’s so hard to get published. SK mentions that only 5% of writers actually get published. Even established writers get rejected.
M is mentioning that sometimes ideas come out fully formed, but the writer must be open to listen to the characters. There is a sort of “zone” that an artist gets into, a form of meditation. Reading also can create this sense of meditation and it’s hard to attain when reading is a chore or is difficult. People can remember every book they read in high school. People who don’t read just haven’t found the book they want. People are telling stories on how they’ve zoned out while reading.
SK’s wife Tabby has meant a lot to him and folks think that it was sweet. Everyone in the family except the daughter writes horror novels.
M asks about discipline. Other writers have mentioned that they have a schedule, they go to their “office”. Maybe it’s a type of conditioning, that you can’t write unless you follow a routine.
Writers’ blogs make them more human. J keeps a blog of sorts about her fan site and appreciates an audience.
Writers need pre-readers that will comment on how the writing is going. Sometimes a writer can be too close to the writing and needs perspective. Another person reading the work sees it from a different view. SK mentions killing off his characters when he’s doing a rewrite.
J is mentioning the “Rock Bottom Remainders”, SK’s band with Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson, Amy Tan, and others.
Next month’s book is Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley. We’ll be having a cookie exchange, so bring a plate of cookies to share. The date is Oct. 25. Be there or be square!