A few weeks ago I decided to go see Stephen King’s IT in theatre, accompanied only by the two beers I snuck in my backpack. I’m not typically a horror-movie enthusiast, as in I hate them, but was intrigued by this particular film due in part to its creator. I chose to justify the $14 ticket-price as an investment in research for my own creative storytelling. Though a moderate bibliophile, other than King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, I’ve never read any of his most well-known work, including IT.
I have, however, seen many of the film adaptations based off his work, Carrie, Pet Sematary, Storm of the Century, Kugo and The Shining. Since I watched most of these movies as a child, I can’t recall many of the details, but other than the feeling of nausea associated with trauma incurred to an achilles tendon or the sight of Jack Nicholson’s face, I was never really frightened by any of the themes in his films. Being ridiculed and humiliated in high school seemed to have been a right of passage in my hometown. I’ve had several beloved pets die over the course of my life, one on my lap. Heavy snowfall is pretty common during Northeast Pennsylvania winters. I have a German Shepherd, he isn’t threatening, the slightest sound has him hiding in the bathtub. And maniacal misogynists basically make up the backbone of our current government. I guess it takes a little more than reality to get me to turn on my heels and run in the other direction these days.
IT was no different in this regard as clowns don’t quite do it for me either, although who wouldn’t be rightfully terrified if they came across a murderous arm-eating sewage dweller while out for a joy walk with their toy boat…even those that apparently took their vocal lessons from Scooby Doo Academy. Short of a couple startling scare tactics, the movie was more fun and campy than frightening. I enjoyed the nostalgic 70s Stranger Things vibes and humorous nods to New Kids on the Block. It’s not uncommon that a lot of stories follow the same scheme of monsters playing off children’s worst nightmares, because if they used adults instead, it would seem pretty silly to have the biggest movie villain dressed as a debt collector or credit card statement.
So while Stephen King’s work hasn’t quite tapped into my biggest fears personally (megaladons, tiny holes and dying before I publish my first book), I appreciate his artistry and ability to create something that transcends generations. I was both entertained and inspired by his imaginative storytelling. It’s certainly a testament to his craft that a book written thirty years ago is not only still relevant, but thriving in recent consumerism. King’s characters are resurfacing everywhere from Halloween costumes to fast food brand marketing and his tales are ever prevalent in popular culture.
The 1st of November brings National Novel Writing Month and I am planning to use this occasion as a push to do what I’ve been procrastinating for so long, writing a rough draft. In my daunting creative pursuits of doubt, I must remind myself of King’s memoir advice, “You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.” And I will. Hopefully this is the year that I’ll finally use all my hapless adventures and relatable struggles to write and share my satirical story in its full-length entirety. To paraphrase ole’ Pennywise himself, “We all laugh down here. If you come with me, you’ll laugh too.” Maybe King’s quotes were just the spark I needed to get the ball rolling, or thought balloon floating. I’d say my hard-earned $14 was well-spent.
Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.