Saturday, January 2, 2010

Stephen King

I've never read anything by King. Faced with a choice between Pet Sematary, or Nacissus and Goldmund, or 100 Years of Solitude, or East of Eden, or jacking off, or writing something myself, Pet Sematary didn't even make it into the top 5.
As you know I'm going to write third person this year. It may sound egotistical to write, "The Man in the Van drove to Mexico. He's a madman on a mission." This is me. So why refer to myself in the third person? Why? But really, it's just practice for writing in third person about someone other than myself, or someone who resembles myself but is not me. See? Chris McCandless did this in his journals, "Alexander Supertramp stared down the long dirt road. He was on his way with a bag of rice and a rifle. This was the beginning of his great discovery, his biggest test."
I'm sure people give him shit for doing this because it sounds all wrong. We know he's writing in a journal so why did he refer to himself this way when no one else would read the journal? Was he so self absorbed that he saw himself as a character in a Jack London novel? No. My theory is he was practicing to be like Jack London and London wrote mostly 3rd person stories. It takes practice and McCandless was rehearsing the role of writer. I don't think he was completely content with his style but he was learning. It's actually very very hard to write in the third person about factual events you are doing. It takes a totally bipolar personality and one of the main reasons I don't think McCandless was crazy is because he couldn't pull it off. He was completely aware of his decision. He WASN'T a character in his own book. Yet.

So, I picked up one of the several King books from the bookshelf of terrible books at the group home. Does he write in third person? I didn't know. Well, not only does he write in third person, but he does it in almost the exact same way as me. He has the same edgy humor, unafraid of profanity, the same dialogue/exposition/dialogue/exposition/narrative/aside/dialogue outline to his stories. And most strangely, he uses italics in the same way as I do. See? See? He is thinking in words and it has become his surrogate speaking, so he emphasizes things the same way he would if he were speaking. That's what I do.
So, I can't read King. I can't. It's way too similar. No one has reminded me of my own style more than him. True we don't really write about the same topics, but I don't want to start throwing in ghosts and talking cars. Especially when writing in third person. He even introduces each story with a brief first person essay...and the essay sounds exactly like me too. His is better, of course, more precise, but the clear tunnel into his mind is identical. It's uncanny since I can't say I'm influenced by him at all. Hemingway, Kerouac, O'Toole, Vollmann. Yes. Not King. I wonder if that could be a short story for him. How he got in my head without my reading his books. I don't know but I want him out. Get out!
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.