I recently picked up a copy of Duma Key, a Stephen King novel. I've been a fan of King for many years, but I had stopped reading him for a while because I wanted to find new authors and explore other areas of literature. As I was browsing through the bookstore however, he came calling back to me with a fury.
Purchasing the book at that point was inevitable. When a book grabs my attention - or an author - there's no turning away. I generally am stuck with picking up whatever their latest book is and plunging in. This was no exception. Earlier I read Davin's post where he introduces the idea of 17 pages, and it was in my subconsious. Sure enough, I happened to look up at the page number and I was at page 15. I was already hooked, and I had formed impressions of the characters. What's more, I got there without even realizing I had turned past 14 other pages.
Now I'm a quick reader, so it should come as no surprise that I can speed through 14 pages in an instant. What I realized however, was that if I hadn't paused to think about things, I'd still be heavily engrossed in the story and turning to page 20 by now. This is the goal I am striving for, to be such an exceptional writer that my readers are instantly wrapped up in my story and are willingly available for the whole ride. I don't have any clue where this story is going, but I don't mind because the book is impossible to put down.
There are authors I have read that are good at their craft. There are authors that make me curse and wish I hadn't wasted my money. But there are also authors that just leave me in awe. King is one of those. While I don't always agree with the level of...ahem....colorful language, I've grown accustomed to his style so it's okay. I'm also a former soldier, so it's not like I'm going to blush either. But his ability to instantly take me away to wherever the story is happening leaves me whirling. I read the words, I watch the structure, but I can't nail it down to any one thing; he's just a great storyteller.
I've had an epiphany while working my way through this post, figuring out how to vocalize everything. I started this writing journey with the intent to become published. I've said that often enough, because that has been my goal. I realize now however, that publication isn't really what I want to do anymore. I want to become an exceptional writer. Period. If I manage to publish something, cool. But if I can learn to write at even half that level, I'll be very happy. Perhaps this should be obvious, and I'm sure everybody is nodding their heads, but I have had the idea of publication hanging out there in front of me like a hallucinatory vision. The golden chalice sitting just beyond the fingertips. Not anymore. It's time to swivel the arrow in a new direction, pointing exactly where it should have been all along.
Are there any authors you read that leave you awestruck? Have you ever written a passage yourself that just made you say, "Oh yeah....that's good stuff"?