A little over a year ago, my daughter suggested we order tickets to a show. David Sedaris was appearing at a historic theater a few miles away. I had read several of his books and remember enjoying his brand of humor. Having just completed chemo a month earlier and was recovering from another surgery, I was ready for a night out.
His show did not disappoint. It was the first time in almost 7 months that I truly laughed. Uncontrollable, hysterical, make-my-eyes-water laughing at his sarcastic, dry-witted, inappropriate stories. On the way home that night I decided to re-read all of his books I still had. I forgot how much I adored this strange little guy.
Once an avid reader, I had mostly stopped. Partly because of my crazy schedule, partly because I had started my blog. There were only so many hours in the day. And during my treatment I lacked the attention span and focus necessary to read any more that a few paragraphs at a time.
After finishing a few of his books, I became hooked again and made time to read. My all time favorite author since the late 70s has been and probably will always be Stephen King. I began reading him almost solely after borrowing someone’s tattered paperbook copy of Carrie. I often rushed to the bookstore the day a new book was released.
At some point I stopped doing that and there were several of his more recent books I hadn’t read. After my Sedaris fix I caught up with King.
While waiting for new King works to be published, I’ve started to reread some of his old stuff. They’ve been on display in every home I’ve lived in since I started reading him. It feels silly to spend money on lots of new books when I have so many classics begging to be cracked open once again.
I’m currently rereading Rose Madder. It was first published in 1995. I remember more of the story than I thought, but have no idea how it ends, which is nice. What I’m finding interesting is as I read, as good of a writer I thought he was all those decades ago, he’s improved with age. I find his writing today smoother, more sophisticated. Some of the wording in his older works is awkward, almost juvenile and dialogue, unbelievable. I’m no literary critic and I acknowledge my audacity to critique a master, but my point is (though it’s taking me a very long time to get to it) every writer has room for improvement, even famous award-winning ones.
The other day, a friend asked me what I was working on besides my blog. My answer was, nothing. I tried publishing a piece of fiction. I knew at the time there was room for improvement, but didn’t know how to get there without starting from scratch and I wasn’t willing to do that. I still believe it was an honorable first effort, but I know where its weaknesses lie. I also stated that I doubted I’d tackle another one because fiction just wasn’t my strong point.
As I sat in the yard this afternoon, soaking in the sun and catching up with Rose, an epiphany hit me. If Stephen King was still improving his writing, 40+ years after he started, was I wrong to give up so quickly?
Maybe there really is another one in me after all. I suppose I should rule nothing out. I have plenty of time.