Stephen King knows how hard it is to be a professional writer. I’m sure some of you also relate because you are published or at least have stayed up until 3 a.m. to write a good paper that was due next morning. And it wasn’t easy either.
In sections 19-24, King discusses his earliest work – think editor of The Village Vomit, not Carrie. As he talks about his first jobs, stories, and articles, there’s an important message here: Writing is hard work. It takes dedication, persistence, and passion. In order to succeed, you need these things and support from those around you.
Here are some other highlights:
- After The Village Vomit debacle, King’s school guidance counselor hooked him up with a paying writing job as a sports writer. While reading, I remembered guidance counselors. What happened to them? I had one in high school who I spoke to once when I was in trouble, and she didn’t guide me to do anything. Do they actually do anything now? King’s counselor did exactly what he was supposed to do; he kept him from causing more trouble and fueled his creativity. He got him a job, encouraged King’s passion, and provided guidance. Other than family, this may have been King’s earliest support system.
- Do you have an editor? If so, you’ve had your writing ripped to shreds. It’s what we do when we have to. Every professional writer has an editor who makes them a better writer. Journalism and English majors can tell who the exact professor was. And as a writer, you take it. I’ve been in both places, and they’re both hard. The best thing to do is learn from it and not take it personally. It’s not personal, it’s the process. If you don’t want an editor, then start a blog, but if you write professionally, remember to handle criticism well and hone your skills.
- You may have to work a day job or crap job. King’s first real-paying job was dyeing cloth at a mill. His schedule was long and tedious, and anyone who has had to work while going to school gets it. It’s hard work, but it makes you strong and you appreciate the good jobs that come your way. I could relate most to this because I worked full time, went to college full time, and had a family to support. Looking back, I have no idea how I did it, and I hope I never have to be that exhausted again. However, it was worth every minute. I’ve learned so much, and a good work ethic isn’t something you can buy – it’s a natural ability.
- And it’s that natural work ethic the drew King to his long-time wife Tabitha (aside from her gorgeous legs and “raucous laugh”). This is where the support system comes in. Every artist, whether a writer, painter, musician, designer, needs support. They need to be loved and have someone to love. Sometimes you need a push, and only that person can provide it. For example, many King fans know Tabitha rescued pages from Carrie from the trash and pushed him to finish it. Every artist needs someone to believe in their work.
We’d love to hear about your writing experiences, including those naggy editors and good guidance counselors, in the comments below!