Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Forward Movement and Stephen King


By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine



Have you ever felt like you were moving forward but your brain kept telling you that was impossible? It happened to me today at the self-service car wash. I pulled in until my front tires crossed over the track to signal the car wash to start. I put the car in park, looked forward through my filthy dirty windshield, and saw the machine with huge rotating brushes coming toward my car. The swishing brushes that landed on the hood moved forward up and over the car, making me think I'm in a Stephen King novel. The impression is the car is moving to meet the machine. My brain told me this was not the case. I had to close my eyes; the feeling of forward movement was just an illusion and not the reality of my parked vehicle.


Writing can be like my parked car. You work for days, weeks, months, or years on a story, novel, or project thinking you are moving forward. Then you go to the next phase of the writer's job, editing your work. You survive the edit process and proceed towards submission. Then begins the actual test of a writer's courage, the inevitable feared rejection letter.

One of the books I'm reading is Stephen King's, "On Writing". Fifty pages into the book, I find it is a fascinating memoir and insight into his childhood and those life experiences that shaped his writing. Just a warning, he does throw in the occasional curse word but so far, his story is intriguing and compels me to finish his book. Being sick as a child, he missed a year of school at age six. This was before every house had TV, computer, gaming system, or electronic babysitter; as a result, he was reading everything he could get his hands on. Reading "a ton of comic books, progressing to Tom Swift and Dave Dawson". Jack London had a huge influence on him during his year of being housebound.

His first original thought submitted story, "Happy Stamps" came to him after he watched his mother lick the S & H green stamps into the coupon book. A collection of these stamp-filled books could be traded for items in a catalog. He submitted "Happy Stamps" to Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. Young Stephen King waited and waited for a response. A letter came, what all writers at some point receive, a rejection letter. He wrote across the letter the title of his submission (brilliant idea) and then nailed it under the eaves of his bedroom ceiling.

Picture this! Early 1960's attic sparse bedroom of impressionable little Stephen King his first rejection letter hanging on a nail in his bedroom. He sees it when he wakes and goes to bed. A constant reminder of his attempt to be a published writer. At this tender age, he earned his badge of courage as a writer. He continued to hone his writing skills and move forward to become a rarity in the book business. He established a viable book genre: horror, becoming a bestselling author and authority on the subject.

So for every rejection letter, know it is really a badge of courage. Do like Stephen King write your title on the rejection, find your "eave" and nail it up. In rejection know it's part of the writing process. Write On! 

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