Dear Mr. King,

I write this letter to you because I must thank you for your book, “On Writing.” When it was first suggested to me by a Huck Finnish, charming and successful writer geek pal of mine that I purchase and actually read this offering of yours, I clenched as I usually do when I am feeling pressured to do something I wish to most definitely not do — and this time I was being encouraged to read a how-to-write book.

However, I was fairly confident that were it authored by the likes of you it would not be the deadly droning of “teachers” in writing groups and writing workshops, those well-meaning folks whose main gift to the attendees is to paralyze the brain.

I do not wish to suggest that all people who run writing groups are this way. They are assuredly not, and I’ve known many I fervently wished to emulate; inspiring, encouraging, articulate and bright. Oh, and yes, awesome.

Your book, even though it’s a how-to, did not fill me with stupefaction. In my world, I always know when I’ve found a terrific tome because I dread its coming to an end. And so to my great joy I found your book on writing to be delightful, informative and engrossing, and I dreaded its ending. I will read it more than once. Because of it, I am reborn. Yes, I use too many adjectives. I’m workin’ on it.

Reborn. About that. It’s true. I am 80 years old, Mr. King, and while I’ve written and sold a few books (one with Marilyn Monroe’s first husband – I tend to write about old dead movie stars – boring, but not to me), I was unfortunately raised, OK reared, in an age where female-gendered girls were offered The Big Five as life pursuits: Nurse, Teacher, Wife, Mother, Secretary, in any particular order.

But as a kid I most painfully yearned to be a writer. Alas, back then, that vocation was considered highly suspect – to want to be involved in any of the arts as a career meant one was surely doomed to a lifetime of sluttage, promiscuity, starvation, questionable preferences, prostitution and naturally, several unnamed diseases.

My father was shocked when I told him I wanted to study writing in college and that my dream was to work in journalism. I may as well have told him I wanted to do nude pole dancing in Brazil. He quite nearly had a stroke.

Ah, but he was the father figure and so I “knew” he had to be right. But oh, that Tug – that awful Tug inside of me wanting so to be a writer. Thus, I sneaked writing courses and I wrote and wrote and WROTE. Anything. Everything. Was it good writing? Likely not. I didn’t care. I just simply had to do it.

When I finally managed to get some paid writing gigs, the paterfamilias was not amused, nor was he proud, and I was quite nearly booted out of The Will (I managed to smarm my way back in).
And so I did take those typing lessons upon which he insisted (he was right, they did “feed” me) and I worked in advertising in NYC before I had the very good sense in 1959 to elope with the man who is still my best friend and who remains a funny, loving, kind partner/sweetheart/boyfriend, a good father to our three sons and wonderful grandpa to our six grandchildren.

Retirement years with him is an endless vacation. He is also 80. It was never in my Big Plan to be sleeping with an octogenarian geezer but I do, I am, I will, and it’s as much fun now as it was before we were married.

He is living proof that we females do not necessarily marry our fathers — “Mongo” has been my staunchest supporter and encourager since we met in college at 19, in 1957.

“You wanna do it? Then do it!” says he about all my wacky dreams. Talk about good karma – we get to wallow in it.

So I read your book and bought two more to send to writer friends, one who struggles to be a paid writer (major oxymoron there, right?) and who is about 80 percent blind. She puts books into a machine thing and will be able to also read, and rejoice in, your remarkable “On Writing” book.

Because of you and your compelling story, I have finally let go of dear old Dad and his antediluvian beliefs. It is quite amazing is it not, that people can reach up through the dirt and continue to control the living from 6 feet under.

I have finally finished my book, “Queenie,” which has taken me 15 years to birth. I gave it to an “editor” in 2002 who said she just didn’t “get it” and what’s worse, she frowned. And because I am a card-carrying wuss, I put it away, gave up and dismissed my Inner Tug.

Until last year that is, when I decided to grow a pair and anxiously placed it with another editor who called it “your lovely, lovely book, LC.”

Wow — I mean, WOW! She went over it page by page by word, and it’s about to be — well, sent forth.

Am I anxious about the selling part? You bet! “Queenie” has been edited four times, once by the aforementioned pro, three times by good readers, the “reviews” have been acceptable, and now comes the hawking. I am filled with dread, but I can do it. At 80 the string is running out so I’d better shake my booty. (See? Even old broads can be hip.)

Thus this letter is to thank you, and thank you, and thank you Stephen King, for rejuvenating my Tug.

Yours truly,

LC Van Savage

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