I’ll admit some mixed feelings about November: it reminds me of how cold I am about to be for months and I have to re-acquaint myself to driving home every night in the dark.
But November is all about gratitude. Practicing daily gratitude is a neuroscientifically supported practice in creating happiness. What we think about, and thank about, we bring about. I won’t expound here upon my layers of white privilege, but I try to remember it’s there in some superstitious hope that I won’t lose anything that I take time out to be thankful for. Whatever, I can have my illusions.
Stephen King has not exactly made it onto my gratitude lists. Ever. Even last year when I did a thirty day gratitude journal with three different things every day for a month after I read Thank and Grow Rich. I have been more neural toward prolific authors. Possibly neutral with a dash of contempt.
I am sure Stephen King does not stay awake at night deeply concerned about my estimation of him.
But what turned it around for me was two of his books: It, which I may have touched upon in a previous post because I read it in 2013, and On Writing, which I just finished on Friday.
It is a harder sell as far as gratitude, but I am grateful to him in this story because it was my first real experience of horror that crept into my brain, rather than being scary for more gory or base reasons. I first watched the miniseries when I was nineteen and I first got to experience his specific brand of talented brain twisting. But then when I tackled his book in 2013, I loved the characters and the relationships in in their families and between each other, the life stories intertwined and their varied resulting fears used against them.
I remember my father reading It and then going to the movie and being disappointed that they left his favorite scene out of the movie. I like memories of my parents being human, and memories that make me feel connected to them as people.
I am also mentioning him again today as a belated shout out to the new It movie, which I have not seen because I need to see it on a night where my husband is home so I can go to sleep after and I am not good at making time for movies, especially ones where I can’t watch with a five year old sponge scampering about. It scared the crap out of me but here I am, back for more, back for the first scary thrill that he gave me. You never forget your first time, right?
Who doesn’t love On Writing? I have not combed the reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, but it features in the blog posts I have seen about the best books for writers. And it is true that it has good nuts and bolts of writing and that is important. Another good nuts and bolts one that I first read when I started reading for writing advice was Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and Those Who Want to Write Them.
But other than that, it came at an interesting time for me. I did a ten day writing challenge on allaboutwriting.com and it was awesome. Inspiring, fun, encouraging, got my wheels turning and refocused me a bit on writing, which is how many writers spend November. I would recommend the course to anyone. I want to write more often so I picked it up to read during this ten day jaunt, which came at an otherwise busy time in my life as well.
Both the course and this book showed me I don’t have time right now to do the projects I eventually want to complete in my writing. I wrote every day for ten days and got a post out, and I have more things to work on, but I had to trade in my exercise time to do this. I am too vain, and too hooked on exercise, to give it up enough to be able to write as much as I would like to right now. And I am grateful to Mr. King for validating how hard it is to work on writing when you have a day job that requires a good amount of brain space. He specifically mentioned the difficulty in writing on the side when you have a job that needs your brain. He writes six hours a day. I don’t have the time to do that. But that is all right if I don’t right now. I can still work on things, I just have to go easy on myself sometimes for not. I could dial back other hobbies, like compulsive knitting while listening to books to write more. That might be a more appropriate sacrifice. I mean, I can work out a little less often, but I missed it when I was using that time to write. I had a few days that were just pure anxiety too in there and probably exercise would have helped that. I got back to my first real workout in a week this morning and it felt great, even though I’ll be sore tomorrow.
Maybe I just need to stop being hard on myself, get better at reading books for writing more often and not spending all my time on fiction. My self imposed break from fiction definitely ended last night when I finished On Writing and immediately downloaded a book that I trusted would help me lose myself. I took like 1-2 weeks off from reading fiction and I was gazing longingly at a specific shelf in the public library. Like I used to look at a guy who broke my heart. Who doesn’t read this blog.
So, this is my journey, and I am glad other authors are there both to twist my brain, show me new things, even if they make me scared, and to say hey, I get how hard it is to do the work of writing while you are doing the work of the rest of your life. Thanks, Mr. King.
Comments/ likes/shares! Next week I have an idea on deck that’s more like my typical posts.