I don’t read fiction, unless you count Lord of the Rings oh so many years ago.
But I am re-reading Stephen King’s On Writing again, which is not fiction. His emphasis is on getting real, a subject dear to me. If I read him right, he tells us that the story tells itself through us. We are to remain receptive, and to resist the temptation to take charge.
He is deeply suspicious of plots. We need to take charge of our commitment to doing the work, but we ought not take charge of the story itself. The story, he says, will reveal itself to us.
He compares this to how we ought to approach living life. We should be its vehicle, and not try to master it. He asks, “Why be such a control freak? Sooner or later every story comes out somewhere.”
He also says, “It’s best that I be about as clear about this as I can—I want you to understand that my basic belief about the making of stories is that they pretty much make themselves.”
He advises us to ponder that which is in us. He writes, “There’s stuff in there that can change your life.” He corrects us when we strive to be experts:
Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.—Stephen King
King recommends candor and courage. He encourages us to be drawn hither and yon. I’ve always been a control freak. This strategy has not worked well. I can vouch for that. I prefer the artist’s approach.
Mr. King expresses the artist’s approach to life as well as anyone I know, and I explore this subject. I am reminded of Oscar Wilde’s comment that the answer often arrives well in advance of the question. I agree with that.