Saturday, February 9, 2008

Surviving Adolescence with Stephen King

Growing up, most pre-teen girls turn to author Judy Blume. Her books on the trials & tribulations of adolescence is often attributed to the very survival of young adulthood. For me there was someone else though. Not to say Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing didn't heavily impact my young life at the time, because it did. There was another author who planted the very seed of a dream and a passion that I would carry with me entire life. That author, Stephen King. The seed, writing.

Stephen King? You ask. Not your first thought for relatable reading material for a 12 year old girl. Strangely enough I did relate. OK, so maybe I never set my pre-teen cheerleading tormenters on fire at the school dance, but there were times it did cross my mind... The appeal that Stephen King always held for me, and still does, was not what he writes, but how he writes.

Reading a Stephen King novel is like being taken into a quiet room, and being whispered a story. No one around but you and the storyteller. The whole world outside disappears, and you are sucked into another world. So far in, that you worry about being able to get out.

Every difficult time I had as a teenager, or as an adult, I found myself turning to Stephen King. Not for advice on "how" to survive these struggles, but simply to just survive them.

Things like getting teased in the locker room for not yet wearing a bra, or the strange confusion and stress of my first period. My first heartbreak, my parents separation, alcoholism, or my big brother in Iraq during the Gulf War. Sometimes I got sick and tired of thinking about these things. I didn't want to "talk" about them, I just wanted to run away from them. Stephen King was always on the shelf and with the simple opening of a book, I'd be a million miles away. Even as I got older.

When I suffered my first miscarriage, and I was home in bed for 2 days, I reread The Stand. When I finally was going to have a baby, and I neared the end of my pregnancy, I was SO scared. I'd never stayed in a hospital before and I had no idea what to expect from childbirth, except a lot of pain. So in my hospital bag, I packed the Shining. Strange choice, but hey, I was in labor for 30 hours, and did it WITHOUT an epidural. Stephen King to the rescue again (Please note that I was hooked up to an IV with pain medication, I'm not that crazy...).

Now as I begin my thirties (turned the big 30 in October), I find the same release from just the daily stuff that life throws at me. I also find myself reexamining that seed Stephen King planted so many years ago, the passion for writing. It's something I've always done, and always wanted to do. I feel like maybe this is the year to make that change. To take it seriously. Maybe. All I know is that now when I finish a Stephen King book the same thought runs through my head, "Damn! How the hell does he do that?"

By the way, I can't finish this post without mentioning my OTHER favorite author, Chuck Palahniuk. He's a newer author(compared to Stephen King) and is the only author I can honestly say that I have read EVERYTHING this man has written. Including most essays and articles. He is another author who truly leaves me feeling totally inspired and in awe everytime I finish one of his books. A master storyteller.

One big difference between him & Stephen King, is that Chuck, I have actually had the great honor of meeting. While he was on tour for his book, Choke, I went to meet him and hear him speak in Oakland. What a wonderful guy. Sometimes when you idolize a favorite author, the real thing doesn't quite live up to your imagination. Not Chuck. His wicked humor and easy style translates very well in reality. If you haven't ever read something by Chuck, DO SO NOW! It's a ride you'll never forget.

Thanks to both of these incredible men for inspiring me everyday to live my own dreams. Also to all my writer friends out there, be proud of every little piece of immortality you put out there into the world.

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