I spent Thanksgiving reading Stephen King’s On Writing, a memoir he wrote about his literary career and the craft itself. Before reading the book, I had a perception about King that made him out of pretentious and in it for the money. Seems my perception was incorrect.
I’ve been struggling this year, and well every year, with the idea that there is no reason to write if I don’t have an audience. I have an audience of one, which King will call either my “ideal reader” or my “first reader”. Either/Or, my person is Carol. Carol is a co-worker of mine, who has continually told me that she loves my writing and has read almost everything I have written.
“But before we go on, let me repeat my basic premise: if you’re a bad writer, no one can help you become a good one, or even a competent one. If you’re good and want to be great . . . fuhgeddaboudit.” – Stephen King
Where I am at in my writing is this… I don’t think I am a good writer. Maybe competent. I have been told that I can tell a good story. No, they are not the ones with faraway lands and people who are not really people. They are good ol’ fashion love stories that make you cry. Carol has cried numerous times. I write without regard to plot holes. I forget to tie up loose ends. Grammatically, I am weak. Like Stephen King says, “Fear is the root of bad writing.” I must be terrified to have a strong voice. Everything seems to be passive. And I also have a very bad habit of posting my writing without a second draft.
“The second is that while it is impossible to make a competent writer out of a bad writer, and while it is equally impossible to make a great writer out of a good one, it is possible, with lots of hard work, dedication, and timely help, to make a good writer out of a merely competent one.” – Stephen King
According to that quote, IF I think I am competent, it is possible I may become good. My question becomes this:
As a competent writer with an audience of one, will I have an audience of more than one IF I become good? AND… Is it really worth it?
Part of what I have learned from this book is that I should write for myself and for my first reader and not write for the masses; not think about publishing. I guess that is good for people who will be published like Stephen King. Most authors who write have an end goal to be published; either to submit to literary magazines, agents, or even self-published. I am so on the fence about what I want and where I want to go. It’s not like I want to be Stephen King, although the money would be nice.
Should I be happy with my first drafts being posted online for Carol to read, and if someone else reads it’s okay? Should I be happy with my journals filled with short stories and novels that contain mediocre drabble? Because in order to become good, I need help (per Stephen King) and I don’t have help. I don’t have someone to edit. I don’t have the funds to pay for an edit. I have an empty bookcase ready to fill up with my journals of unappreciated stories of love and a free website for publishing rough first drafts that doesn’t get traffic.
“I have written because it fulfilled me. … I did it for the pure joy of the things. And if you can do it for joy, you can do it forever.” – Stephen King
I do enjoy writing. I enjoy coming up with a story. I love it when a hard scene comes together. I find satisfaction when I complete a novel. I love it when Carol wants chapters faster than I can write them.
Who knows what will happen. Until life changes, I am the writer I am.