Friday, July 20, 2007

Ghost Writing

I watched Stephen King's "Salem's Lot" today. During college I took a great class in Gothic literature and my professor stated very plainly that of all of King's books, "Salem's Lot" was the best and one of the best additions to the American canon of literature. I have read the book a few times, and I have to say this made for television movie is a good interpretation of it.

Anyone that knows King, knows that he common elements are the supernatural, fear, children, memories, a return and redemption. What is interesting is that "Salem's Lot" incorporates all of King's classic elements and places them in an almost 19th century tale of vampires. Genius, pure genius.

I always try to write, but its people like King who figure out what it really takes to be a writer.

Today at the bar I had a discussion with a woman about poetry. She told me a few of her poems. They were interesting, perhaps a little grandiose, but they kept your attention and she had good diction. I was accommodating, but disagreed with her about one point. Her idea of writing is that a person should use writing as an emotional outlet and at least for her, her writing comes from pent up emotions and flow outward like a waterfall. Sort of a catharsis on paper. Therapists have recommended this approach for years. I have to say, in much of my writing, I do the same thing. I wait for a creative burst and let it spill out onto paper. However, for me, a true writer is someone who learns to control these bursts and let them come out in a slow fashion. Careful, calculated and diligent. She disagreed and said the best work came from sudden bursts. Its a tough argument, but I have to imagine that Faulkner, Hemingway, Wolfe and yes, Stephen King mastered the art of opening that creative vein and letting it flow slowly, carefully and with a sharp and masterful point.

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