For a wannabe novelist I have very little reading experience. Don’t get me wrong, I was a bookworm child, but from what I remember most of it was hardly anything good. I have little experience with the classics and even less experience with modern adult fiction. As an adult, after 4 years of uni where I could not pick up a fiction book because I was drowning in textbooks, I am finally reading again.
My boyfriend gave me a Kindle for Christmas last year and this week I downloaded the main works of Stephen King. I have never read any of King’s work, though I revere several films inspired by his stories. I decided to start small and have today began reading the novella Secret Window, Secret Garden. The story has been made into a movie starring Johnny Depp and I quite liked it. I understand the endings are different and it was actually on TV the other night so I was drawn to read it quite strongly.
Lunch break today I sat down to read and I am already really excited. These books, King’s style, is exactly what I need to inspire my to write. He is an excellent writer, and as so happens Secret Window, Secret Garden is a story which actually has a writer as the protagonist. Such stories always remind me of the joy I find in writing and I think this will inspire me even further.
On that point also, don’t you think it takes a very skilled writer to develop a character that is also a writer? I have read books before where the protagonist is very studious, very intelligent, loves writing and reading, loves the library. They may also be a young journalist, or perhaps a teen with aspirations to be a writer, in which case they will get a lucky break of the sort writers dream of. They will prove themselves. It all comes across as very safe, very easy writing. The author is only really narrating themselves, or the character they want to believe they are. Or perhaps in the books I have read, often targeted to teens, they are written to sell books to the largest audience: young wannabe writers and intellectuals who like to read about the ‘self’ that they hope to achieve.
Stephen King, I think, avoids this. In this book he depicts a writer who is flawed and depressed, possibly a little unbalanced, yet also inherently normal. It does not feel self indulgent and easy. It feels like King is writing to depict the struggle within the writer, and the fine lines any real writer will tread. It is not a dreamy journey to a perfect writing career, nor is it a narration of how intelligent people like to think they behave.
I quite like it, I am enjoying it, and think I am doing myself alot of good by reading again. I am well aware that a person can only become a good writer by reading bucket loads of prose by already good writers.