The Voice of Home

♦ ♦ ♦

Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life.

Stephen King

My brother introduced me to Stephen King’s The Stand when I was in nursing school.  It was summer, I had a bad cold, and I devoured the book in a week.  Since then, I’ve read everything the man has written—long, short, good, bad, fiction, essays, whatever.  It’s not that he’s the best writer in the world.  It’s that when I read his words, they feel like home.

I love his potty humor.  I love the gross-outs.  My mind moves with the same cadence, grooves on the same rock and roll music he so likes to sprinkle through his stories.  His characters act the way I would act in the same situation.  His voice is my voice with more testosterone.

Before I knew the name of what ailed me, I always read Steve when my depression bottomed out.  He was the ultimate distraction, like sinking my sore brain into a warm bath.  When I couldn’t get out of bed, when I couldn’t sleep, when all I felt was nothing, I could still read Steve.  I think it’s safe to say his books kept me alive back then.

After I had ECT (electro-convulsive therapy), I lost the ability to read.  I could get through short magazine articles, but even those wiggled out of my grasp sometimes.  Words floated by my eyes, unconnected, empty.  I would start to grasp meaning at the beginning of a sentence and lose it by the end.  I was terrified, furious, desperate.  I talked to a high school reading teacher I know.  She said I sounded like her kids with attention deficit disorder or with certain kinds of brain injury.  She said I had to re-teach my brain to read.  She told me to get junior high-age,  non-fiction books because there would be fewer words on the page, pictures, and lots of white space.  She told me to read out loud and to take notes.  She told me to set a specific goal before I started reading—a page, maybe—then to stop when I reached that goal. I did everything she told me to do.

The first novel I read cover to cover after ECT was one of Steve’s.  I remember getting to the end of the first chapter of Under the Dome and crying.  Of course I could read Stephen King.  If anyone could bring me back from scrambled-eggs-for-brains, it would be him.  My brain already knew his rhythms, his vocabulary, the way his characters walked and talked.  He took up residence so deep and wide he couldn’t get fried out of my brain.

So, when I tell people Stephen King is my guilty pleasure, that’s not true.  He’s a buoy in Dark Water.  He’s a lighthouse reminding me where Home is.  He’s part of my sense of faith, a thin string I unravel from my heart and launch into the Void.  He’s also the first entry on my Bucket List—

1. Coffee with Stephen King.

Gosh, I hope he drinks coffee.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ellen
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 10:53:42

    I loved this posting Sandy. I read Steve in high school…any and all. My favorite was The Stand. All of his books seemed like they could really happen…evn the most outrageous…out there kind of situation. He wrote in a way that made me believe all he had to say…and he wrote some scary#$%##. I go back and reread some of his sometimes, The Shining, Salem’s Lot, Pet Semetary. He’s great…thanks for the reminder

    Reply

  2. Anthony
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 17:09:18

    He is the man. The only writer I can really put on the same level is J.K. Rowling. My favorite book is Black House, but I never actually read The Stand, just saw the miniseries. I hear from people a lot that The Stand tends to be the favorite. One of my favorite quotes, which I use somewhat often and completely understand, is from…either On Writing or Misery, probably Misery~ “There’s a big difference between getting an idea and trying to get an idea.”

    Reply

  3. fivereflections
    Dec 24, 2011 @ 15:24:28

    this post is very interesting – teaches me things i didn’t have a clue about.

    SK is a great artist!

    Reply

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