Stephen King just told me off!
He did! There I was sitting in my car, coffee perched next to me as I negotiated the commute from SF State back to the East Bay, and Stephen said there are only two things a serious writer needs to concern himself with: writing and reading.
He then went on to tell me that if I succumb to watching TV every night, in my case, Star Trek or Seinfeld reruns, or The Daily Show, instead of either refining my own craft by writing or learning from those who have mastered it by reading, I am not being serious about being a writer.
He dismissed my claims that I don’t have time (hey, I get up at 6am to hit the gym and get to the office by 9am … and, and the kids go to bed at 9pm … and, and I need to sleep a good six hours … and, and, and …)
He then embarrassed me by discussing a number of great novels that all fiction writers should read. I hadn’t read any of them, and I couldn’t even write them down as I was driving.
I should have seen it coming. I know Stephen King very well, though I’ve never met him. I listen to On Writing every year. I’ve read the paper version, though nothing beats hearing the master telling it in his own uncompromising dialect.
Worst of all is that I know he is right. I know that I need to read. Whenever I share my work with others, they often ask if I’ve read such and such, and I invariably haven’t.
But I will. In fact, last night I went to bed at 11pm and read for half an hour. At least, I think I did. I fell asleep at some point … and when I woke in the morning and got back in the car, Stephen King was waiting for me. He talked about other things, but somehow, I am sure he knew.
Oh by the way, if you haven’t already read it and wanna be a writer, do check out On Writing by Stephen King, book or audio. And yes, I’ve read it, a couple of times!