I was having coffee with a dear friend of mine the other day and we got to talking about art and music and our shared desire to pursue these avenues. My friend told me that often the problem is, we begin any meaningful pursuit in the arts with an end goal in mind. We believe we are supposed to be like him or her, and we measure our success against theirs. Deep down, we know this is completely unfair since we often judge the end of someone’s career with our beginning, but at the same time, it’s unfair because we are not a carbon copy of that person. As my friend said, “You don’t have to be Bob Dylan.”
Growing up I always enjoyed listening to a good story–I think we all did–but then something happened where I realized I actually wanted to create my own stories. I dreamed in plots and character arcs.
I recently finished Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road. It’s one of those books I’ve heard people talk about quite a bit, usually with this cult-classic fascination that says, “If you don’t read this book, you are missing out on life itself.” People get like that with certain books and sometimes it’s unfounded, but the truth is, I did enjoy this one. Interestingly, though, my enjoyment wasn’t so much for the story itself or even the characters, but for Kerouac’s writing style. I guess you can like a book for a number of different reasons and that was mine.
Recently I read Stephen King’s autobiography On Writing and I’ve come to an important conclusion: When I grow up I want to be like Stephen King. I should clarify. It’s not because I want to write about demon clowns or other scary stuff that makes you fall asleep with the light on. I don’t want to do that. That’s not my thing. First off, I’ve never been to Maine, and secondly, the story It has forever ruined the circus for me. (Thanks for that, Mr. King.) What I do want, however, is his work ethic. King knows how to churn it out. Book after book. Year after year. For King, success is finishing one project and getting started on the next. He knows how to keep on running.