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Filtering by Tag: Stephen King

Where Do You Write?

Michael Dechane


It's best that I be as clear about this as I can -- I want you to understand that my basic belief about the making of stories is that they pretty much make themselves. The job of the writer is to give them a place to grow (and to transcribe them, of course). Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer's job is to use the tools in her or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible. Sometimes the fossil you uncover is small; a seashell. Sometimes it's enormous, a Tyrannosaurus Rex with all those gigantic ribs and grinning teeth.  - Stephen King, On Writing

The metaphor of writers as archeologists King describes it is my favorite part of his book On Writing. The process of discovery and of clearing away everything that isn't connected to the other pieces rings true to my experience as I work at finding words. It helps me focus. It helps me remember to be attentive, gentle, and decisive at my desk. It is a standing invitation to return to the joy-and-labor of finding and bringing home stanzas, paragraphs. I wonder, though, about where one goes to find fossil-stories: about the nature and topography of this ‘undiscovered pre-existing world.’

As I continue to press on in pursuing the craft of writing, I am discovering that where I go internally is more important than where I decide to break open my laptop, or how many cups of coffee might put me in the sweet zone for the day’s writing work. I don’t have a great way to articulate this yet – maybe that’s why I’m still hung up (or hanging!) on King’s metaphor of digging bones.

At this point, maybe it is as much as I can say that I feel I need to go deeper, or underneath, some strictly rational, manageable ‘place’ to get to a ‘place’ with ideas and words that feel most true, most surprising, most like my real voice. Maybe what I’m looking for is a personal metaphor to capture — and driving directions for how to get back to — that mysterious, wonderful, terrifying place where I find the good words. A metaphor for that place, and for my role in it. Am I alone in this search? Or have you quested after this, maybe found a metaphor that helps you?

Challenging Joe Hill (Stephen King's son) to a Battle to the Death!!!

Guest Blogger

Jason Hubbard Derr joins the blog to write about challenging another writer (who just happens to be the son of the Stephen King) to the death. When Chris Fisher asked me to do a blog post to help promote my story – "Live Nude Girls" – in the latest issue of Relief my mind jumped to several immediate possibilities. I felt I could talk on a range of topics like:

  1. The writing life
  2. How when someone like Neil Gaiman, fantasy author extraordinaire, goes on about not believing in God and then writes stories populated by Gods and uses them as a metaphor to explore human life and the human condition I immediately being to believe that his atheism is not at all what he thinks it is.
  3. On the nature of being a MA graduate with an MA in theology and most of a BA in creative writing but no job what-so-ever so if you want to hire me to do some freelance writing work please contact me.

Instead I have decided to challenge author Joe Hill to a duel to the death. Mr. Hill is the author of Heart Shaped Box and the forthcoming Horns and is the son of Stephen King.

In life – as both a human being and as a writer (not all human beings are writers, it’s a much longer process for us) it is important to have a nemesis. If possible one should indicate their nemesis in writing and make several public declarations of the relationship. I should point out that having a Grown-Up-Professional nemesis relationship and, say, a Deep-Wish-For-Harm-To-Fall-On-the-Guy-Who-Made-your-Life-Torture-In-Grades-4-And-5 are much different things.

I am sure that you have already begun to ask yourself: why be the nemesis of Mr. Hill. Because he is Stephen King’s son and had publishing connections from the earliest glimmer of a desire to publish? Is it because in ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ he took what could have been a clichéd King-esq horror novel and instead – through a truly unique lead character – gave us a story that was as much about growing old and taking stock of our lives as it was about past sin? Or is it because he is doing what I want to do with life – writing comics and books (the comic I created but was not allowed to write? Apparently it’s coming out soon!)?

Yes. It’s that one!

But I won’t belabor the point – part of the fun of having a secret nemesis is that you get to keep your funhouse mirror life justifications to yourself in, say, a journal or in mad midnight ramblings.

In the end I feel Joe Hill would be a good nemesis because he seems like a nice guy – that as he ridicules your work he may actually say something nice about it. And I feel he may not agree with my weird pre-Acclaim Valiant Comic book fascination but he would get it.

So, Mr. Hill I want to do what you do: write stories of wonder that plumb the depths of humanity. And I’m a few years behind you. But I will catch up. And, oh lets say in 10 years, I want to challenge you to a Duel-to-the-Death on the top of the empire state building.

But before that – can we get a beer? Maybe poke around a used bookstore and would you autograph my copy of ‘Heart-Shaped Box’?


Jason Hubbard Derr is a theologian, author and independent scholar living in Vancouver, BC with his lovely new bride. Jason is a contributor to, has been invited to submit to an academic journal and will soon see his MA thesis published. He has most of a BA in Creative Writing from Eastern Washington University and and all of a MA in Theology from the Vancouver School of Theology. Jason's story "Live Nude Girls" can be found in Relief Issue 3.2.