Wow, if you ever want to put your brain on a light froth for the night, play Warcraft all weekend, then knock off about nine-thirty and read Stephen King’s “Misery” until midnight.
I have had a copy of “Misery” in the house for about six months, and I have not read it. This is not all that surprising, I have quite a backlog of books, and if a book can’t hold my interest, I long ago decided that my time was too valuable to slog through out of a sense of moral obligation. (Oddly enough, I recall vividly the first time I decided NOT to finish a book–it was so forgettable that I can’t remember what book it was, but the realization that I was bored and that I simply didn’t want to keep reading crept up on me, and then I thought “Well, I could just stop reading.” It was like I had commited a heinous act–stop reading a book? Madness! What was I thinking?! I lookd around wildly to see if anybody had seen me, presumably expecting people to emerge from the woodwork screaming “PERVERT! UNCLEAN!” at such a bizarre notion.
And then I didn’t finish it. And it didn’t gnaw at me. And I have merrily gone on not finishing books to this day if they don’t interest me. A book gets a few chapters, and after that, it is in competition with all the other books that I need to get through, and that’s a pretty broad field.
But anyway. King books do not usually suffer this fate, because whatever many flaws they will undoubtedly have, they are generally highly readable. Say what you like, the man can make you turn pages. I start them at lunch, pick them up again when I decide I’m done working, and plow through until bedtime. However, I’ve been avoiding “Misery” for two reasons. One is that I simply prefer King’s supernatural horror a lot more–regular murder doesn’t interest me all that much. Loved “It” and “Talisman” and “From a Buick 8” and even “Rose Madder” but not so much the plain old egad, the horror stuff.
The other reason is that I suspect in my heart of hearts that if any of King’s book have a chance of REALLY scaring me, it’s one about a crazed fan. Now, I love my fans, I have some of the best fans around, and I don’t honestly know if I’d keep making art if it was a matter of putting it out and hearing only crickets, and not knowing if anybody, anywhere, liked it. It would be hard. And of course, with the art communities on-line being the way they are, sometimes the lines get really blurry between fan and reader and fellow creative traveller, which is all to the good. The posters on the Digger forum come up with stuff about slugs that can make me laugh until I need to run for the bathroom. I am still shocked and touched when people give me things–stuffed wombats, “Ganesha Loves You” pins (which is pinned to my favorite jacket, might I add!) whatever–for no reason except that they liked my art. This sorta thing blows my mind. If anything, I generally feel in debt to the fans, and definitely not t’other way around.
But nevertheless, I think every artist sooner or later probably has experiences with a fan that for some reason is burying the needle on the Creep-O-Meter. And thus this sort of thing is actually scary. Presumably if I had ever been menaced by a St. Bernard, I would find “Cujo” alarming as well.
So anyway, the upshot of all that is that I had a really weird set of dreams of the killing-things-that-just-won’t-die variety. And now I’m all twitchy and drinking coffee. And eager to finish the book, because, as G.K. Chesteron said of fairy tales, the important thing about stories like that is not that they tell us dragons are real, it’s that they tell us dragons can be slain.
But first, work!