Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Stephen King on Creative Writing Classes

"I'm often asked if I think the beginning writer of fiction can benefit from writing classes or seminars... I'm doubtful... In all fairness, I must admit to a certain prejudice here: one of the few times I suffered a full-fledged case of writer's block was during my senior year at the University of Maine, when I was taking not one but two creative-writing courses... Most of my fellow students that semester were writing poems about sexual yearnings or stories in which moody young men whose parents did not understand them were preparing to go off to Vietnam...

"I brought poems of my own to class but back in my dorm room was my dirty little secret: the half completed manuscript of a novel about a teenage gang's plan to start a race riot... This novel, Sword in the Darkness, seemed very tawdry to me when compared to what my fellow students were trying to achieve, which is why, I suppose, I never brought any of it to class for a critique. The fact that it was better and somewhat truer than all my poems about sexual yearnings and post-adolescent angst only made things worse. The result was a four-month period in which I could write almost nothing at all. What I did instead was drink beer, smoke Pall Malls, read John D. MacDonald paperbacks, and watch afternoon soap operas."

-- from On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (2000) by Stephen King.

MacDonald, of course, went on to write the Introduction to King's first short story collection Night Shift, and the two eventually became friends.

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