The past couple of weeks have been hard from a writing perspective. While my beta readers are doing their thing, there's not a whole lot for me to work on. I get itchy and antsy when I'm not working on a project. I need that feeling of forward momentum (even if I'm not actually moving forward). But sometimes the universe sends you inspiration just when you need it most. This week, it was in the form of Stephen King, receiving the Mason award last night at GMU's Fall for the Book Festival, followed by Sarah Dessen this morning, speaking at the National Book Festival. Hooray for books!
First of all, Stephen King last night was AMAZING! I didn't expect him to be nearly as funny as he was, or as inspiring as he was. Sarah and I had a ridiculous time getting to the festival in Fairfax (thank you, traffic), and we ended up in literally the last row, two seats from the end, but I was just so happy we made it. I tried to take notes in the dark so I'm not sure how much I'll be able to translate, but there were some funny bits I'll try to recapture...
First, Stephen King addressed that question you know everyone (including me) is wondering: "What f*&#ed you up?"
King didn't really have an answer, except for the fact that his mom read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to him as a bedtime story when he was eight or nine. Yeah, that would probably do it.
When asked where he gets his ideas from him (another burning question we all have) he said that he likes to think of the worst thing that could possibly happen and go from there. The idea for The Stand (about the battle between good and evil after a disease kills almost the entire human population) came about when King had a cold. He went on to say that sales of the book always go up when a disease breaks out.
|See that thing in the red shirt? That's Stephen King as seen from a very great distance.|
King talked about how strange it is for an author to be famous, when authors are generally thought of as the mysterious people behind the curtain. I think the entire concert hall filled with fans proves that in this day and age, that simply isn't the case. King told the story of when he was at a baseball game with his son, who said, "You're always being recognized when we go out in public. Why don't you just put on some sunglasses." So Stephen King put on his sunglasses. A few minutes later, an eight-year-old boy turned to his mother and said, "Look Ma, it's Stephen King in sunglasses."
At the end, he read from a new project, about a group of RV people who roam the country, sucking the essence out of people, known as "the Tribe." The last line he read was so good it gave me chills. Definitely inspiring. I was also amazed how King was able to read from the manuscript without ever stumbling over a word. I thought it was interesting that he doesn't keep a notebook full of ideas, the way Anne Lamott does, for example, because the bad ideas slip away if he doesn't write them down, and the good ones stay with him. Clearly, he doesn't have any trouble coming up with great ideas.
This morning we headed to the National Book Festival (it's been on my calendar for months, because for the past two years, I have somehow managed to miss it). I expected it to be more like Book Expo of America for some reason, with tents set up by publishers and free books, but alas, there were none. The entire festival is mostly authors speaking and signing their books, which is still pretty cool. After perusing the tents, we headed over to the Teen tent to hear author Sarah Dessen speak. I've never read any of her novels (contemporary Young Adult) but I think I will now. Not only did she seem like a genuinely nice person, but she was very funny and charming, and she clearly has many adoring fans. Most of her time was spent answering questions from members of the audience, in this case, teenage girls. I loved them all. As Dessen said, YA authors have the best fans; they come to book signings and squeal with delight (and sometimes cry) at meeting their favorite author. Surrounding yourself with that kind of enthusiasm has to be amazing.
I am definitely feeling inspired and ready to get to work editing my new book, come what may. After all, as Stephen King says, if you think of the worst thing that could possibly happen, whatever happens will be better than that.