Monday, October 27, 2014

Book review: Bag of Bones by Stephen King

I can think of few better ways to celebrate this special time of the year than by reading a book by Stephen King.

Blurb form the back of the book:  Four years after the sudden death of his wife, forty-year-old bestselling novelist Mike Noonan is still grieving. Unable to write, and plagued by vivid nightmares set at the western Maine summerhouse he calls Sara Laughs, Mike reluctantly returns to the lakeside getaway. There, he finds his beloved Yankee town held in the grip of a powerful millionaire, Max Devore, whose vindictive purpose is to take his three-year-old granddaughter, Kyra, away from her widowed young mother, Mattie. As Mike is drawn into Mattie and Kyra's struggle, as he falls in love with both of them, he is also drawn into the mystery of Sara Laughs, now the site of the ghostly visitations and escalating terrors. What are the forces that have been unleashed here--and what do they want of Mike Noonan?

What stood out for me, while I read, were the comments about a writing life. Mr. King spells out an easy road to success--write a book, attract a well established publisher, keep writing. This is the road to success that protagonist Michael Noonan followed. He kept writing--producing one book a year and storing other manuscripts as a safety net. And I wondered could I do that? Could I squirrel away manuscripts like nuts against a cold winter? Could I wait to save my words instead of sharing them with you, my reader? At this point in my career, that's the position I've been forced into. I'm not storing my manuscripts. They are being stored for me in slush piles. And it feels like I'm existing in purgatory--will I get the reward of a good writer and be published or pay for my sins by being rejected? 

'This is how we go on:  one day at a time, one meal at a time, one pain at a time, one breath at a time... If you write books, you go on one page at a time.' (p. 361)

Thank heavens for this blog. Thank heavens that I have this outlet for expression.

'The writing had burned off all thoughts of the real world, at least temporarily. I think that, in the end, that's what it's for. Good or bad, it passes the time.' (p. 492)

And yet, even in paradise there can be trouble. Michael Noonan built a successful writing career but four years ago the love of his life died. Now, he is alone living in his own purgatory. He finishes writing the book he started while his wife was alive and then... and then... 

'And except for notes, grocery lists, and checks, that was the last writing I did for four years.' (p. 34)

I wonder if non-writers can feel the full weight of the sorrow expressed in those words?

2014 has been a very productive year for me. I have made over 50 submissions to publishers. 1 play, 11 short stories, 4 short story collections, 2 novellas and 2 novels have been slipped into envelopes and deposited into mailboxes. I can't imagine not being able to write--I don't want to. It would be like not being able to speak or losing the use of my left arm. 

So, maybe, that's the lesson. Instead of yearning for what is yet to be. I should embrace and celebrate what I have. I should celebrate my creative, fertile mind.

'[I]n dreams, perhaps everyone is a novelist.' (p. 54)

Sharing my author journey...

You may recall that I entered and won an 'on-island' playwrighting contest (hurrah!). 
When I entered I didn't really know what I was getting myself into. Who would direct my play?
I had no idea. There was a brief period when it seemed that this responsibility was following on my shoulders (gasp). Thankfully someone, with skill, talent and enthusiasm, stepped up to save the day. (Hurrah!)
Who would be cast?
Back when the role of director was mine, I was able to cast two of the three roles. But finding someone to fill the third (male) part proved to be beyond my abilities. Thankfully the new director was easily able to solve that problem.
What would my role be?
I wrote the play but I don't own it. There's a difference between what is written on the page and what appears on the stage. 
It's my view that in order for a play to be successful the director and the actors must take ownership of the play, as well. I remain the playwright. But, in my view, I must leave room for their interruption. To necessitate this process, I stepped back--they meet without me being there. Now that I've returned, I'm amazed and impressed at the work they've done. It's so much fun to watch them at work and offer feedback. 
I think I may be hooked. : )
Lean on a Gulf Islander by Leanne Dyck, will run--with other short plays--on November 20, 21 and 22.