Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Stephen King and Telepathic Writing

In his wonderful "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen king conducts an exercise in telepathy: "The most
interesting thing here isn't even the carrot-munching rabbit
in the cage, but the number on its back. Not a six, not a four,
not nineteen-point-five. It's an eight. This is what we're looking
at, and we all see it. I didn't tell you. You didn't ask
me. I never opened my mouth and you never opened yours.
We're not even in the same year together, let alone the same
room . . . except we are together. We're close.
We're having a meeting of the minds.
I sent you a table with a red cloth on it, a cage, a rabbit,
and the number eight in blue ink. You got them all, especially
that blue eight. We've engaged in an act of telepathy.
No mythy-mountain shit; real telepathy.".<BR><BR>This page conducts conversations with books. Please join in our telepathic dialogue. Perhaps we can even have a conference call...:

Stephen King: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Yes, undoubtedly, writing and reading are the deepest form of telepathy. Not just for transferring cute images like digitally imprinted bunnies, but also in-depth thoughts. Unlike spoken words, that momentarily reverberate and are gone, writing encapsulates the sum of many thoughts, the sifting of ideas until some withstand the tests of refutation and life-experience.
So when you pick up a book, you're not just receiving a direct transmission from the thought of another human being, but the core-essence of some form of "thought-specialization" - the most intense transfer of information, ideas, even emotions, that humans are capable of.
No random telepathy picking up the random stream of consciousness type thoughts of everyday existence can match the incredible human achievement of transferring to another the carefully wrought out thoughts that are embedded in written text.
So thank you, Mr. King. We all got your rabbit-image message, written on a snowy day in December 1997. It has indeed crossed the boundaries of time and space, has entered cyberspace, been converted into whirling cascades of zeroes and ones in our computers, and here it is: Onscreen! And from there into our minds. We did not speak, but we share your bunny, and your thoughts.<BR> Here is a salute to a true craftsman. A man whose kept writing and learning how to write until they stopped rejecting his novels.

A man who is clearly learning how to write all the time. He never stands still, you can read him becoming more accomplished as he writes. I read "On Writing" along with "Misery" and they seemed to complement each other in a weird way. On Writing is wonderfully written, and if you are an aspiring writer, it has some wonderful advice.
One of the most memorable, for me, was where Stephen King castigates authors who don't write: "On the other hand—the James Joyce hand—there is Harper Lee, who wrote only one book (the brilliant To Kill a
Mockingbird). Any number of others, including James Agee, Malcolm Lowry, and Thomas Harris (so far), wrote under
five. Which is okay, but I always wonder two things about these folks: how long did it take them to write the books
they did write, and what did they do the rest of their time? Knit afghans? Organize church bazaars? Deify plums? I'm
probably being snotty here, but I am also, believe me, honestly curious. If God gives you something you can do, why in God's name wouldn't you do it?".

I copied those words out and pasted them on my wall in bold:
If God gives you something you can do, why in God's name wouldn't you do it?
And immediatley after that, King proceeds to transmit some of the best possible advice to aspiring authors. His daily schedule: My own schedule is pretty clear-cut. Mornings belong to whatever is new—the current composition. Afternoons are for naps and letters. Evenings are for reading, family, Red Sox games on TV, and any revisions that just cannot wait. Basically, mornings are my prime writing time. Once I start work on a project, I don't stop and I don't
slow down unless I absolutely have to."
This may seem a strangely mundane piece of advice, which may be summed up as: Sit down and Write. But, oddly enough, I have received this telepathic message not just from King, but from virutally every author I ever read discuss his craft. The secret is not in the writing but in the writing, or to put it less inscrutably: The secret is not in the writing produced, the object that conveys the thoughts, but in the act of writing itself, the sitting down to it and doing it. God gave you something you can do. It is a good thing, and the best advice is:
Do It!