A to Z Challenge 2013

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

In Awe...And Taking Notes

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"?


Andrea Cremer said...

Hey Eric,

I'm in the middle of Time Traveller's Wife (I know everyone else read this book a long time ago!) and I'm blown away by how much work it must have been to put this novel together. The writing itself is beautiful but imagining so many encounters past and present and keeping the plot fluid. She is the 'author I want to be' of the moment (it changes about once a month).

TereLiz said...

I had this same epiphany after reading a passage from a Philip Pullman novel, and knew it wasn't going to be enough to be of publishable quality. I knew I wanted to be exceptional, too. Well, here's to being exceptional!


Lost Wanderer said...

same here. I think when we start out to write, we don't really understand (unless you are one of the lucky ones grown up around writers) what goes behind writing the book, so the only goal is to become published. Because that's what we THINK means to be a writer; someone paying you for your story. But the more you get involved, the more you learn about the craft and techniques, you begin to appreciate just how much work this involves, and then merely being published isn't enough.

And that's the way it should be. If all of us were content merely to become published authors, book shops would be filled with much more mediocre fiction. And god knows, we don't need that.