We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why. Not until the future eats the present, anyway. We know when it`s too late. ~Stephen King
Dear Mr. King,
We’ve never met, and probably never will. I’m just a small-time writer in Georgia and I’ve never been to Maine. In fact, odds are that you’ll never read this. That’s okay. There’s nothing here that hasn’t been written to you a million times.
As a reader, I just want to say thanks. I grew up reading your books. Thanks for being so prolific because I loved nothing more than to get lost in the worlds you created.
As a person, I want to say thanks. I don’t know anything about you except what I’ve read in your book forewords, and what I read in the media. I’ve always loved those forewords, those little bits of interaction. It was always just enough enlightenment that it felt like small town talk – like sitting in a coffee shop where everyone knows just about everyone else and nods politely across the tables in greeting. A “Hey, how are you? You want to hear something?” It gave your books a less corporate feel. Sure, there were times when I listened to your every word over that cup of coffee, and other times I might have said, “Interesting stuff, there Steve, but hey – the family’s waiting on me.” But there wasn’t a single time that I felt like you weren’t thinking about us, your Constant Readers.
You’ve also been a great example of beat down your demons or they’ll beat you. I can’t remember which of your book’s forewords that was in, but I recall the crux of it to this day. As a writer, I understand now in ways I couldn’t back then. You wouldn’t take no for an answer with all your rejection letters. I once posted a sticky on my computer monitor about your rejections and how you’d kept them. I kept mine, too. Times are different, and although I never got The Call, I made my own way. The stories just had to get out and I wasn’t getting any younger. I hired book designers and bartered for editing services and I’m now one of the Indie gang. I think that bit of determination is mostly because I’m my father’s daughter and because of reading your story. Combined, I saw only blue skies. Determination and that sense that we’re not alone in our experiences can go a long way. I think of you whenever Amazon or B&N comes through with a payment just in time for the antibiotics for one of our dogs or repairs for one of our cars.
As a writer, I just want to say thanks. You’re not the only reason I decided to follow my dream of becoming a writer. My late mother had more to do with that than anything or anyone else. My late father, too. You weren’t the only writer who influenced me either. Add J.K. Rowling, Dean Koontz, Rod Serling, Alfred Hitchcock, Edgar Allan Poe, and Shirley Jackson to that list. But I don’t think you mind sharing that honor. You were my first true author crush.
I’m working on a young adult haunted house novel and maybe that’s why I’m thinking of The Shining, Rose Red and Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House so much lately.
Thanks for everything, which is to say, thanks for being you.
Constant Reader Michelle
NE Georgia, June 2012
ETA: Since this post first appeared, I’ve gotten The Call. It came from a large traditional publisher interested in the haunted house novel I was writing at the time of the original post. From there, I landed a top agent. The Haunting Season, which I wrote for me rather than what I thought would ever sell, has been my most successful book to date. It reached #1 in its categories on Amazon US, UK, and Canada on multiple occasions. And this letter to Mr. King has remained one of my all-time most popular posts. Mr. King’s story about rejection letters taped to my monitor is gone now, but not forgotten. While I will always be a huge fan, his personal story has inspired me even more than his works. So thanks again, Mr. King.
To readers and writers everywhere – whatever you choose to do, just remember: Embrace the success of others. If there’s room for one, there’s room for more. Let it be a beacon of hope. Never measure your success against others for the reward is as unique as the journey. And, if all you have is all you’ve got, keep trying. It just hasn’t happened yet.
All my best,
Michelle (Still reading, still writing, and still dreaming)