The Grand Poobahs Speak — Who’s Right?

English: Stephen of England Česky: Štěpán z Blois

English: Stephen of England Česky: Štěpán z Blois (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was chatting with a writer friend the other day, and we got on the subject of adverbs. Exciting, right?

During our conversation, I tried to remember something clever I read about adverbs — about not using adverbs, that is — in Stephen King’s memoir On Writing.

I found the book on my shelf and flipped through it until I found the bit where King opined, “I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs.” I can imagine King writing a story one day about a demon road in a battle with evil…in the form of words ending in -ly.

While I was searching through the book looking for King’s adverbial wisdom (with which I mostly agree), I ran across this statement: “Informal essays are, by and large, silly and insubstantial things; unless you get a job as a columnist at your local newspaper, writing such fluffery is a skill you’ll never use in the actual mall-and-filling station world.”

“Informal essays are, by and large, silly and insubstantial things.” — Stephen King, 2000

Tell that to the gazillion bloggers in the world.

King’s On Writing came out in 2000. According to Wikipedia, the word blog was coined in by “Peter Merholz, who jokingly broke the word weblog into the phrase we blog in the sidebar of his blog Peterme.com in April or May 1999.”

King missed the boat on that one. What’s “fluffery” to some can be brilliance to many.

Thinking of King’s non-prophetic statement, I recalled when I read The Icarus Deception by bestselling author and super-blogger Seth Godin. Godin wrote in his 2012 book that analysis is what we need to write for the ether world. “Do it every day,” Godin opined. “Every single day. Not a diary, not fiction, but analysis.”

I remember when I read that, and how sad it made me. I was late to the blog party, but I was envisioning my blog as a place for me to experiment with short fiction. Godin’s statement took the wind out of my sails.

Nonetheless, contrary to Godin’s rule, I have posted some micro fiction here on this blog in the form of my 259-word stories, and these little bits of story usually get some traction.

The Lesson Learned: You can’t believe everyone all the time, even the Grand Poobahs. And absolutely, that’s the truth.

4 comments on “The Grand Poobahs Speak — Who’s Right?

  1. Am picturing a gazillion bloggers analyzing something every day — not a pretty sight.

  2. Lia says:

    Hmm … well, Stephen King also advises writers to get an agent. (I’m assuming that he’s talking about writers that are worth their salt, and not those poor sad souls that glom their horrid fanfic to the Interwebz every Friday night.) King is brilliant in many ways I am not, but he is and always will be totally Old School, firmly entrenched with the world of traditional publishing. If he started out today, I have to wonder if he would have been published –?

    • Gloria says:

      Good question to ponder. I’ve read only one King novel, The Shining. I remember getting to the end of the story and being too scared to finish it while being alone in my apartment. I put on my shoes, left my place, and got on the Clark Street bus here in Chicago. I had never before — and never since — felt so comforted by the presence of people on public transportation!

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