I parted ways with Stephen King sometime in the, oh, I'd say mid 90's. I believe the book that tipped it for me was The Tommyknockers. I barely made it through to the end of that one. In fact, I'm fairly certain that I didn't really "read" the last few chapters so much as skimmed them. I couldn't get past the horrible fate of the dog Peter. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a dog lover, vegan or PETA activist. It's just that the world is such a shitty place with too many real world horrors that I was no longer entertained by reading make believe ones. If I ever was entertained by them. Though I must have been on some level because I read damn near everything Mr. King had written up to this point and a couple of things after.
But, the more stories of his I read with situations like this, the more they bothered me. It could have had something to do with having children of my own. I could visualize the things that happened to the characters happening to my babies. It's silly I suppose, but how I felt. This discomfort may have been magnified by the Tommyknockers, but began in earnest with The Stand. Not to drag out my point more than necessary, but when one of my favorite characters in that novel bit the dust, I was pissed.
The actual end of the road for me and Stephen King came with The Regulators. I read the first chapter, put it down and never picked it back up again. I never picked up another Stephen King book again for another twenty one years. I was determined to never let what I viewed as negativity back into my life again. Then the JFK assassination changed my mind.
I don't remember how I stumbled upon it, but I discovered 11.22.63. Not the event obviously, but the novel. I have always loved the concept of time travel and love stories written around said concept. I believe most Americans are intrigued by the Kennedy assassination and the thoughts of..... what if?. I'm no exception to this so I begrudgingly decided to go against my prior vow to never again read a SK novel and read this one. It was of course a great read. I'm happy I read it. When it was over I felt the same disappointment that I used to feel when I would finish one of his books. I didn't want the story to end. He's just that amazing of a writer.
I was still mad at him though. How could he kill off so many great characters? How can he write about such terrible things? I watch a lot of YouTube and began to watch some videos of interviews with him. A picture started to form for me of who he is as a person. Next I read his novel On Writing. It completed the picture for me. Well, it's mostly complete. I don't think we can ever completely understand what goes on in the mind of others. He states in this book that his characters tell their own stories. I think that's a load of crap. But my opinion on that subject doesn't matter. It's his creative process after all, not mine. So who am I to say it doesn't happen that way for him?
What I first discovered in reading On Writing is that SK is a nice guy. Really. I found myself liking him despite my anger at what he's written. He's genuine and would probably be really fun to hang around. The second thing I discovered was about me and not him. I discovered that any problems I have with what he writes are mine and not his. Being angry at him is just silly and meaningless. He's a great author and has a right to write whatever he wants. I don't have to read it. I don't have to like it. I've not forgiven him, because he doesn't have anything to be forgiven for.
I've gotten a couple of his newer books to read. I haven't started them yet. I haven't decided whether I will actually read them. But I have decided that SK didn't deserve my anger for twenty one years. Deep down I think he's really like that goofy guy you knew in high school. And honestly, who could be mad at that guy for longer than ten seconds?!
I often feel as if I belong on the Island of Misfit Toys because I'm not a creative with just one area of expertise. I enjoy making digital creations in Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign. I love knit and crochet. I love glass art. The creative process is very therapeutic for me and, mostly, keeps me somewhat sane in an insane world.