Tag Archives: Stephen King

“Nobody goes to libraries anymore.”

One of my favorite movies as a kid was The Pagemaster with Macaulay Culkin. It was about a boy who found himself taking shelter from a storm inside a very empty library except for the lone librarian. The boy ended up having to overcome these different obstacles and adventures before he was able to return back to normal.

The idea of getting lost in a library only to have to live out the stories fascinated me. Along with the fact that I could never quite understand why such a grand library was so deserted. (The library in this movie was beyond cool looking.) With all of those books to be read, the idea that no one was fighting over getting to read as many as possible always baffled me.

Now fast forward 21 years and I find myself dealing with a similar feeling.

“Nobody goes to libraries anymore.”

These words struck me as odd when I heard them while watching a TV show with my husband the other night. I had to rewind the scene to make sure I heard the dialogue correctly. Sure enough,I heard correctly. My husband laughed a little and muttered that they obviously hadn’t met me.

Touché husband, touché,

It was Monday night and already I had been to the library twice this week. Just earlier that evening I had taken my son and a neighbor’s daughter (ND) so that they could pick up a stack of books for after test reading this week.

When we arrived, I let the kids loose to find what they wanted. At first I noticed that ND was kind of wandering around, looking for something but she had a scrunched up face about her. She had wanted to search for a specific book, but the one of the catalog computers was out of service and the other was occupied. She hadn’t ever been out of the “children” section before so when I took her to a different machine in the “main” part of the library, her face was in awe. It was incredible. She was down right giddy.

“Oh, I like mysteries!” she said. And after further conversation, I determined that what she was looking for was the horror genre, not mystery. We quickly found the book she had been looking for and then I steered her towards R.L. Stine’s collection (safely back in the children’s section) where she went home with his first two Goosebumps series.  (Thank God, I wasn’t sure how her mother would have felt had I let her come home with a stack of Stephen King novels.)

In a matter of minutes, these two had their arms loaded down with books. It was hilarious, partly because at this moment they were competing on who could check out the most books. The other part was because I kept waiting for one of them to drop their stack – I am the mom who likes to point and laugh…

UnFortunately, no books tumbled to the ground, we managed to check out with 40 books between the three of us (some of these books were designated for the two younger siblings that were unable to tag along), and I had the pure joy of experiencing someone else’s excitement over books.

This leaves me with the question… why does Hollywood think that libraries are dead?

Do they think we aren’t reading? Surely they are smarter than that.

Is it because ebooks have come up in the world full force, and that is great, but guess what? Any given library has an exceptional ebook collection.

There are more published writers in today’s world than ever before so this can’t be the reason.

Today’s library isn’t just for old dusty books anymore (were they ever?), and it is not just a place for someone to use the computers for free (Monday night, the computers were almost all vacant, thank you very much.)

The library is a community for the community. It is a place for all, it doesn’t care what your race is, your gender, your age, your likes, dislikes. No matter who you are, there is something at the library for you.

Just please, do not bend the pages.

Do you have a favorite library? Is there a special library that you hope to visit one day? I’d like to visit all of them…

Happy reading,

~AJP

(Too bad I didn’t think of this post last week during National Library Week…)

 

Warning! This Post Contains Opinions

More and more recently the term “trigger warning” has been coming up in conversations I have, articles I read, and the news. Most of these are centered on colleges petitoning for “trigger warnings” to be put on books that might potentially contain disturbing themes or ideas or situations.

Seriously? When did we decide to stop thinking for ourselves? When did we, as a culture, begin to become emotional infants? Does this mean we are going to have to put a trigger warning on Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn? And what about Moby Dick? Are we now becoming so politically correct that classic stories have to come with warnings?

The student government at the University of California in Santa Barbara seems to think so. Last year they petitioned to have trigger warnings put on books to warn of possible distressing material. A short list of books they cited as needing trigger warnings included:

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

The Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare

“A draft trigger warning policy from Oberlin, quoted in Inside Higher Education, used Achebe’s acclaimed text as an example of a work which might require a warning, saying the novel was “a triumph of literature that everyone in the world should read. However, it may trigger readers who have experienced racism, colonialism, religious persecution, violence, suicide, and more.” ~ Cited from www.theguardian.com. Read the full article here.

I’m sorry. The last time I looked I didn’t need anyone to hold my hand or pat my back saying ‘there there, it’s okay, it’s just a story.’ I have never needed to go talk to a therapist because Stephen King scared the crap out of me. Ok, so maybe Stephen King’s books need warnings. But, really, we all know he’s going to scare us silly so isn’t that the only warning we need?

For writers, what does this mean? Am I going to have to begin being sensitive to what I can write about because it might disturb someone? I can tell you right now that I am never going to be the kind of writer who does that. I write what is in me to write. If you can’t handle that, then don’t read my stories or poems. Put as many trigger warnings as you want to on my work but it’s not going to stop me from writing about the hard stuff, the ugly stuff, the stuff that makes you upset. I won’t apologize for it either. We are adults. We don’t need trigger warnings on books. Stand up, act like a mature adult, and use the grey matter in your head that you were born with. Because as far as I’m concerned, putting warnings on books is today’s version of book burning and book banning.

When I saw that Neil Gaiman had put together another short story collection and titled it Trigger Warning, I knew I had to read it. The one thing I love about Mr. Gaiman’s short story collections are his introductions. They are worth reading. The one in Trigger Warning is no different. I love what he has to say about ‘trigger warnings’. In short, he says “we are mature, we decide what we read or do not read.”

He goes on to explain that “what we read as adults should be read with no warnings or alerts beyond enter at your own risk.” I understand that there are people who have problems and issues and that certain things can bring on certain anxieties. But when did we have to start putting warnings on books? To me it has always been common sense. There is a title and a picture on covers of books and usually a summary on the back or on the inside flap of a book cover. That summary should be enough to tell you “hey, this contains material that might bother you.” If you choose to read the book, it is your personal responsibility for dealing with the ideas, themes, emotions that the story may reveal to you. Do we seriously have to begin putting warnings on books?

Life does not come with trigger warnings. The only way we know where our comfort zones are is by stepping out of them, by encountering situations that force us to think outside our normal parameters. The best and safest way to do this is by reading books that “might” distress us. Books that force us to deal with ugly emotions and feelings, that make us uncomfortable, help us to deal with those situations in the safety of our own homes. No one ever has to know that we had to go change our underwear because of Stephen King. And if we need therapy because of it, then that’s our little secret. You also learn that if you don’t like having the crap scared out of you then don’t read Stephen King again. No warning needed.

“There. Consider yourself warned. There are so many little triggers out there, being squeezed in the darkness…Now all we have to worry about is all the other books, and, of course, life, which is huge and complicated and will not warn you before it hurts you.” ~Neil Gaiman, Trigger Warning.

Dusting off the Trash

Last night I had a dinner meeting with Amanda, and right before we parted ways, I made the confession that I had absolutely nothing ready to blog about today. Nothing.

She advised me to just write a stream of consciousness, I think that is what she said to do, but basically just start writing whatever comes to mind, just go with it.

Great advice, except for one small thing, I just can’t do it. My stream of consciousness usually revolves around the kids, the grocery list or other mundane crap that I am pretty sure you do not want to read about. Instead, I picked up the book that I am in the middle of and began my procrastination regimen.

Currently I am reading Stephen Kings On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. This is not one of those “How to become a Writer” sort of book, it is basically a biography of his storytelling and language and I am loving it.

Anyways, back to my procrastinating, tonight’s chapter was about the making of Carrie. Now I’ve heard the story of how he had thrown away his first draft of Carrie and his wife dug his manuscript out of the garbage and told him that it was worth his time. What I didn’t know was Stephen King never liked Carrie White. She only started out as a three page first draft before he trashed it.

In the middle of this chapter, he states that he made the realization that stopping a piece of work just because it is difficult, whether emotionally or creatively, is not a good idea.That sometimes you have to keep going even if you don’t feel up to it and sometimes you’re doing good work when it really feels like all you are managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position. (Ha, love that!)

That was my spark. Both for this blog post and so much more.

I started writing, really writing, when I was 21 years old. I am fixing to be 31 and I have published absolutely nothing. Want to know why? In all of my years as a writer, I quit 90% of what I am working on. Why? Because it feels like I am writing a big pile of crap. Or I become emotionally detached from my characters. Or I get a new, prettier, shinier idea to play around with. Or it just became too hard. It’s not that I am a bad writer, I just walk away too quickly.

Last year I made a resolution to finish something. Anything. As long as I finished whatever I started. True to my promise, in July I finished the first draft of my novel. And it felt good. Really good. Then in November, I participated in NaNoWriMo with the idea of doing a FanFiction piece of an old Fairy Tale. Then on Day one, I couldn’t seem to stop thinking about the characters in my finished draft from over the summer so I knew what I had to do.

Write what happened next. In that month, I completed what will either be a Part Two of my first novel, or a second book to the first one. Either way, I have two finished first drafts that I have been working on. I am no where near full completion, but I am still hacking away at it.

It hasn’t been easy. There are days that I think what I have written is complete crap. (Guys, no matter how much you tell you me what I’ve got is good, we still have our inner demons that kick us while we are down, but thank you though.)  Some of my characters are painful to be in, physically painful, but I have kept going. Even when a critiquer informed me that my favorite character was a piece of crap low life. Even when my hardest character to write turned out to be one of the favorites in my group.  Even when I knew I had to write that gut wrenching scene that left me in tears, I will persevere.

When this book is completed, I have full intentions to dust off an old half written first draft and complete it. I will keep going. I will finish. I am a writer and it is what I will continue to do.

Do you have any unfinished projects that need dusting off? If so, I’d love to hear about it.

Till next time,

~AJP