Friday, December 03, 2010

Who'da thunk?

If anyone had ever asked me to make a list of the authors I thought would be most likely to mentor me in my own writing, I probably would have glibly tripped off names like Lewis and Rowling, perhaps even Montgomery and, more recently, Hobb.

And certainly, these authors teach me something when I read their works. Their books--their series, actually--are my all-time favorites. I revel in their storytelling, their description, their dialogue, their narrative voice. And so, in a sense, they are mentors.

Had anyone asked me a few years ago to make that list, I'm not sure Stephen King would have even come to mind. But if he had, I would have relegated him to the bottom. I'm not a fan of horror, not in the least, and while I had found that I liked King's writing from his articles in Entertainment Weekly, I hadn't really become acquainted with him until that fateful meeting two years ago when, at a recommendation from a friend, I read On Writing. The rest, as you know, is history.

And today, as I've just finished three of the four stories in Different Seasons (a book I can recommend with little hesitation--two of the stories are the basis for the movies The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me, but expect some vulgarity), I can think of no other writer that mentors me more than King. Interestingly enough, it's not that I want to write like him. I'd rather write like Rowling, with a dash of Lewis for good measure. But when King writes about writing. . . man. I think the best way to say it--and I've said it before--is that he makes me want to write. He makes me believe I can. There is something about his passion for the craft that stirs my own passion. Like a tuning fork, he strikes the note that lingers long and true.

And so, if you were to ask me today, the list would be short. Stephen King--Uncle Stevie, as he calls himself--is, in spite of all odds, my writing mentor. Imagine that.

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