Sunday, January 4, 2009

Stephen King is a better writer than I am.

Ha! How's that for a revelation?

Here's what I mean to say: Did you ever have a hobby or even a passion--something that you do well at, something that you take some pride in--only to experience someone else's genius and feel completely humbled and maybe like a poser?

I have fun writing. Always have. Since I was very young girl.

And sometimes I allow myself to believe I'm an okay writer. Once in college (and by "college" I'm referring to the local community college that wasn't much more than super high school) at the end of a term my English prof wrote a note on my final essay that read: "You were my best writer this quarter."

She didn't make that comment the following quarter, however . . .

Even so, I've enjoyed trotting out my little day-to-day life compositions and getting some positive feedback here on my blog. It's a fantastic outlet for me and there are some days when I'm really happy with something I've written. Some days I even let myself feel a sense of, hmmm, accomplishment maybe?

That sense is threadbare at best.

I've never read any Stephen King before but recently picked up "Duma Key" and from the beginning it was clear to me that King is an unmatchable craftsman.

Halfway through the book: "Each morning I walked on the beach with my pouch slung over my shoulder, prospecting for shells and any other interesting litter that might have washed up. I found a great many beer and soda cans (most worn as smooth and white as amnesia), a few prophylactics, a child's plastic raygun, and one bikini bottom."

"Most worn as smooth and white as amnesia." Who imagines that analogy? Not me. Not if given a thousand years to think it over. And the most frustrating thing about that line? It's parenthetical. An afterthought.

That's just showing off.

Yeah, I know the literati probably doesn't consider King any sort of serious heavyweight. But his skill blows me away just the same. Makes me want to break my pencils : )

Thank goodness the blogosphere leaves a place for amateurs!


Jen on the Edge said...

These days, it seems as though the most successful writers are great entertainers but not necessarily the best writers. Two who come to mind are John Grisham and J.K. Rowling. There's no doubt that they put together amazing stories that keep us enthralled, but I wouldn't say that they are the best writers out there. The ones whose use of the English language are unparalleled.

ajooja said...

I asked a guy I used to work with if he sold his soul to the devil because his writing was so good.

He just kind of shrugged his shoulders.

Even on my best days, I'll never be as good as this guy (and he's amazingly fast too).

Still, I do what I do. There is always going to be someone better than me at everything.

It is what it is.

Whitenoise said...

"Better" is subjective anyway. I prefer your writing to Stephen King's.

(Okay, I've never actually read anything he's written, but still....)

vuboq said...

Personally, I find Stephen King to be a bit over-written. Fine. Maybe I'm jealous, but still ... he takes pages to say what someone else can write in a paragraph. I'm all about elegant writing (not that you can tell that from my blog posts).

and, now the Vicious part of the VUBOQ comes out, I wonder if "worn smooth and white as Alzheimer's" might be better than "amnesia". Amnesia just happens (no wearing), Alzheimer's takes time. No?

And, I'm left thinking "Those who can, do. Those who can't, criticize Stephen King."


countrymouse said...

Interesting, Jen. And I totally agree with your last sentence.

I though about you, Ajooja, while writing this. Because I thought you had touched on similar subjects before.

Awww, Captain. You flatterer ; )

You bring up an interesting idea, VUBOQ, but one of the main characters has Alzheimer's so that comparison would have been too obvious. And contrived. But I loved your "those who can, do" sentiment ; )

Kate said...

amnesia, schmamnesia.

how the hell does he remember how amnesia wears anyways? it's amnesia - the very essence of it is forgotten.

I'll read your blog any day over tackling his works. Just keep on doin' what you've been doin' here - entertaining all of us :)