Hello and welcome back to the blog! I know what you are thinking. Two blog posts in one week? What have we done to deserve this? Well, dear reader, I guess you can say that I still feel guilty for not posting for three consecutive weeks following Christmas. Also, I’ve been meaning to start posting more, so I might as well start now. On the docket for today is a one-word review of Stephen King’s the Outsider, as well as some other thoughts straight from my brain. Let’s get started.
- Part of being a writer is writing when you don’t feel like it. I had this thought last week when I was having a blah day. I’m sure you know the feeling, right? You don’t really have a reason for feeling that way, you just do. Well, part of being an adult is doing things when we may not want to. Heck, that’s life no matter your age. My youngest daughter will whine about going to school, but she still has to. By the way, she’s in Pre-K and everything they do is fun. I don’t get it.
- This note is directly related to the last one. I believe they call that a smooth transition, but don’t get used to it. I write six days a week, sometimes seven if I can find the time. I treat it like a job that I haven’t been paid for yet (I have a lot of back wages due my way). Being a writer is as much a part of me as being a father, husband and a Christian. It’s a part of who I am, whether rich or penniless, famous or obscure, I will always write. Sixteen years of trying to make a break into this business has proven that, I think.
- Don’t call it a hobby. When I explain to you that I have a day job and write on the side, don’t brush it aside as a hobby. As I have already explained in the previous bullet, it’s much more than that (did you notice that I made another smooth transition?). If you do happen to call it a hobby, you won’t notice a change in my demeanor and I likely won’t say anything. I’m much too polite to do such a thing. But know this, I’m screaming at you on the inside.
- I don’t know if I have mentioned it on the blog before, but retiring a story is hard. For those that don’t know I’ll go into more details as to what that is. Retiring a story is simply putting it away forever. It’s gone to every literary magazine—in the case of a short story—or literary agency—in the case of a novel—and received rejections from all. Some are harder to retire than others. I’ve had stories that I knew weren’t good enough and put them away earlier than most probably would. Yet there are a select few I knew were good enough to be published on some level, whether it be online or in print, that I was forced to close the door on. Rejection is hard enough when you think the publishing world is right in their opinion, but it’s harder yet when you think they’re wrong. (A note: that was as nicely as I could phrase that last sentence. Bitter? Probably.)
- The rest of these notes will deal with a book I recently read, Stephen King’s the Outsider. But I thought you were going to do a one-word review. Isn’t that cheating? Perhaps, but I’m going to do it anyway.
- Should certain books come with a trigger warning? Warning: this book contains descriptions of scenes that some may find offensive. Before I read the Outsider, someone mentioned this in a review. I normally take reviews with a grain of salt, as you never know what the person’s state of mind was when reading or reviewing the book. In this case, I think the reviewer had a point.
- I read and write a lot of horror, so I’m used to wrapping my head around the unbelievable. I don’t have an issue with the supernatural entity that is the baddy in the Outsider. What I do have a problem with is writers who force characters to make outlandish decisions. A decision was made by a central character in this book which cost that character his life. That’s as much detail as I can go into without spoiling the book. The problem? No sane person would have made the decision he made while under the circumstances he was in. No one. Keep it real next time, Mr. King, because this time it wasn’t.
- I don’t know if you are aware of this, but writers write the dialogue for their characters. This can lead to characters all sounding the same. Sure, you can throw someone raised in a different part of the world with a unique accent or dialect. However, the choice of words and the manner in which they are delivered remain the same for the other characters. If I were to record you and some random person off the street, the chances of you sounding the same are minuscule. People are unique and tend to sound that way as well. (Stephen King isn’t the only writer guilty of this. I am as well.)
- Now for the review of Stephen King’s the Outsider. What I’m going to do is start with a review the length of a paragraph. Then I’ll whittle it down to a simple sentence and finally down to a single word.
- In the Outsider Stephen King makes the unbelievable believable. Two good men are the central focus of the first half of the book. One of those men is a little too squeaky clean to be likeable in my opinion, while the other lacks personality. These two characters are linked, in my humble opinion, by mistakes they make during the course of the book. Would real life people make those same choices? I’m not so sure. The saving grace of this book comes in the form of my person favorite character of Mr. King, Holly Gibson. Inserting the manic P.I. assistant made this a book worth reading, with a caveat. That is lower your expectations.
- Stephen King’s character development falls short of his normally high standards in the Outsider.
I think that will do it for the day. Thanks for reading. Until next time, remember to follow your dreams, even if they terrify you.
Stephen Michael Roth