It’s Halloween and rain is in the forecast, so what could be more appropriate than settling in on this dark and stormy night with the latest book by Stephen King?
The prolific author has been horrifying fans for nearly five decades with creepy, otherworldly tales. He has published 58 novels and more than 200 short stories, many of them, masterworks of the horror genre.
It seems fitting that the King of Horror would release another book Halloween week. But fans who crack open King’s latest work are in for something unexpected.
King’s new novel Elevation is one of his rare departures from the horror. Instead, he delivers an uplifting tale about embracing mystery and encouraging tolerance.
It’s a moxie move for a guy who made his name off tales of werewolves, killer clowns, aliens and all other manner of terrifying characters. Stephen King is a man with a lot of moxie. Here’s why:
Moxie works hard.
Stephen King is a beast (no pun intended) when it comes to writing. His output is legendary. He turns out at least 2,000 words per day, every day. That’s his own self-imposed quota.
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut,” says King in On Writing.
The takeaway? Not every one of the 2,000 plus words a day that King churns out end up in print. There’s also no accounting for the hundreds or perhaps thousands more that get erased, deleted or backspaced out of existence. But those words make the way for the words that actually do make their way onto a page and into a reader’s imagination. The lesson in there for the rest of us is to practice, practice, practice, and work, work, work. Whatever craft you are honing, remember that you must do it daily if you are ever going to master it.
Moxie doesn’t always receive its due.
Despite his status as a bestselling author, King has not always been recognized for the quality of his work.
In 2003, when he was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, critics were quick to voice their displeasure.
“He is a man who writes what used to be called penny dreadfuls,” critic Harold Bloom told The New York Times. “That they could believe that there is any literary value there or any aesthetic accomplishment or signs of an inventive intelligence is simply a testimony to their own idiocy.”
That sick burn was hardly enough to brush King away from the plate. He tackled the controversy head-on in his acceptance speech and refused to make apologies for his work.
“Frank Norris, the author of McTeague, said something like this: ‘What should I care if they, i.e., the critics, single me out for sneers and laughter? I never truckled, I never lied. I told the truth.’ And that’s always been the bottom line for me. The story and the people in it may be make believe but I need to ask myself over and over if I’ve told the truth about the way real people would behave in a similar situation,” said King.
And perhaps that’s what resonates most with King’s fans. It’s not the supernatural, the often otherworldly elements that present themselves. It’s just how natural, how of this world his scenes read. His characters are honest, sometimes heartbreakingly so, and their reactions ring true.
King is doggedly committed to telling stories as truthfully and honestly as he can. Are you pursuing your dream with that same level of integrity?
Moxie sometimes needs a push.
Stephen is quick to credit his wife, author Tabitha King, with his success. It was Tabitha’s typewriter that King used to bang out his first book. It was Tabitha who encouraged him to write rather than take on part-time work, even though they were desperately poor. It was Tabitha who fished his first novel out of the trashed and urged him to finish it. It was Tabitha who confronted him about his addictions and insisted he seek help.
The truth is, without Tabitha King, there might not be a Stephen King. It’s often true that behind every person with moxie stands another person with moxie. That was certainly true in King’s case.
The better part of Stephen King’s 2003 National Book Award speech was dedicated to talking about Tabitha, and the significant role she played in his life and work. King expressed deep gratitude to his wife for her unwavering support.
Do you have a champion in your corner, urging you on? Take a moment to thank them today. Tell them how much their moxie supports yours.
Are you a Stephen King fan? What is your favorite story by King?