Addendum to Stephen King on Tabitha

My last post was a collection of quotes from Stephen King’s On Writing, all about his wife Tabitha and the critical role she plays in his phenomenal success.

I am not sure how, but one of my favorite anecdotes from the book slipped under my radar when I decided to write a piece on it.

It’s odd, actually, because this was the part of the memoir where I felt the sharp pang of jealousy that made me realize that Tabitha was the key insight I was going to take away from the book.

So, in the interest of being thorough, here’s my final excerpt from On Writing:

When I write a scene that strikes me as funny … I am also imagining my I.R. [Ideal Reader] finding it funny. I love it when Tabby laughs out of control—she puts her hands up as if to say I surrender and these big tears go rolling down her cheeks.  I love it, that’s all, fucking adore it, and when I get hold of something with that potential, I twist it as hard as I can. During the actual writing of such a scene (door closed), the thought of making her laugh—or cry—is in the back of my mind…

This isn’t always easy on her.  I gave her the manuscript of my novella Hearts in Atlantis while we were in North Carolina … We drove north to Virginia the following day, and it was during this drive that Tabby read my story. There are some funny parts in it—at least I thought so—and I kept peeking over at her to see if she was chuckling … I didn’t think she’d notice, but of course she did. On my eighth or ninth peek … she looked up and snapped: “Pay attention to your driving before you crack us up, will you? Stop being so god-dam needy!

I paid attention to my driving and stopped sneaking peeks … About five minutes later, I heard a snort of laughter from my right. Just a little one, but it was enough for me. The truth is that most writers are needy…

– On Writing, 11

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5 comments

  1. John, there are plenty of authors who make it on their own, without a partner to lean on or blame when they don’t give you the support you think you deserve. If you don’t have the drive to make it on your own, maybe you shouldn’t be imagining yourself a writer.

  2. Dear BS,

    Initials? ReallY? It’s hard to take someone seriously when they HIDE behind initials…are you imagining that you have a name? You sound kind of jealous to me, just sayin’…

    And, where exactly did John say he doesn’t have the drive to make it as a writer on his own?

  3. What a great little sneak-peek!… Isn’t it nice to see an example of great people inspiring each other to accomplishment and also to bring out the best in each other? As it should be…
    I was a HUGE fan of his in my younger years and loved his books. So, thanks for the tidbit. Makes me want to seek him out once again.

  4. I think B.S. has missed the point or maybe I misunderstood B.S. I didn’t get any message from this that John felt a need to lean on or blame someone. I did get the feeling that John was pointing out that having some reader in mind is very important to being a writer and it’s a precious thing, maybe enviable even, to have someone you are so close with, play that part.

    If you are going to be a writer you NEED a reader and you NEED to write for the reader. Paying attention to your reader(s/’s) reaction is key to you realizing if you’ve hit your target. You NEED to know when you’ve missed so you can fine tune your skills or you will lose your reader(s)and then you’ll just be someone that writes but not a writer. Similar to a man that thinks he’s making love to a woman. The man can think he’s done exactly that but if the woman feels like she’s just been screwed, did the man actually make love to her? A disconnected person writing, can think they’re a writer but they’re not, if no one has the desire to read what they’ve written. So yes, “The truth is that most writers are needy…” They need the reactions, good and bad. I think if John were just “imagining” himself to be a writer you would have never felt compelled to read his blog. You read it and you commented.

    John, I have enjoyed both this post and the last one. It was interesting. and I could really identify with the subject matter. My relationship with my art and my husband is similar.

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