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On Stephen King and his Essay about Guns

January 31, 2013


Stephen King, American author best known for h...

Even though Stephen King’s essay “Guns” is about gun control, my essay about Stephen King’s essay is not (about gun control). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stephen King wrote a 25 page essay about gun control, put it on the Amazon Kindle, and now it’s a top ten Amazon Kindle bestseller.  I’m not going to read a 25 page essay about gun control (that may be more a reflection on me than Stephen King).  I can barely read the 2nd Amendment without seeing the yellow dots of sleep. 

25 pages isn’t long for an essay about gun control.  I bet any gun control legislation that is passed (or proposed) will be way over 25 pages long (and probably filled with a bunch of stuff that has nothing to do with guns).  If it’s any consolation, I won’t read that either. 

I usually get annoyed at celebrities who spout off about politics, but I don’t get annoyed at authors who write about political issues.  That’s what writers should do.  If there’s one group of celebrity that should talk (or write) about politics, it’s authors.  I may not always agree with the ideas of other writers, but their views are probably better thought out than those of most celebrities (like actors, singers, musicians, or athletes). 

In fact, I hope other famous authors start writing about gun control too.  Maybe Tom Clancy can write a response, except he’d probably make it a 1,000 pages long with way too much filler.

 Maybe Sue Grafton could write about her views on guns, but she’d probably write an alphabet series of 26 essays and title the first one “A is for Automatic.” 

Maybe James Frey could write about his thoughts on guns, but he’d probably make up a bunch of really wild stories about hanging out in a destructive gun control, and then we’d find out years later that his stories weren’t true. 

Even if I wanted to read Stephen King’s essay on guns, I don’t want to pay to read it.  Why should I pay a famous guy to tell me his opinion?  If anything, he should pay us for reading his opinion.  Better yet, he should offer free e-copies of his older books (like The Shining or The Stand) for downloading his essay.  I’d gladly read his essay about guns if I could get a free e-copy of Different Seasons.  I’d even take a quiz to prove that I’d read it. 

As a writer, there’s one thing that bothers me about this Stephen King essay: Stephen King reportedly wrote his essay while he was angry.  Then his editors approved it.  What editor is going to say no to an angry Stephen King? 

I have never written a book about writing like Stephen King has, but even I know that writing (and publishing) while angry is not a good idea.   Then again, saying no to an angry Stephen King is probably an even worse idea.  If I were an angry Stephen King’s editor and he turned in a manuscript that said “Whffl nk;rt vkld qtbl,” I’d say it was great! 

But I’m sure his essay is not written like that.  

Stephen King’s short novel Rage (about a school shooting) was linked to several school shootings a couple decades ago, so that gives King a perspective that most authors don’t have.  From what I understand, he discusses Rage in his essay, and that part is probably worth reading (but I’m still not going to pay for it).  


Maybe I shouldn’t get annoyed at celebrities who spout off about politics.  That’s their right.  I think the 1st Amendment gives them that right (but I see yellow dots when I read that too).  The problem is that celebrities usually don’t know what they’re talking about, and the coverage of the celebrity’s opinion takes air time away from experts who might inform the public (if the public is willing to listen to experts). 

Maybe I should get annoyed at the news folk for reporting on the celebrities who spout off about politics.  If the news didn’t report it, then I wouldn’t hear about it, and I wouldn’t get annoyed.  Or maybe I get annoyed too easily. 

I don’t know if Stephen King’s essay is any good, and I don’t really care.  My mind is already made up on the issues of gun control, and I can tell from the reviews where he stands.  But I don’t have a problem with famous authors writing about political issues.  I’d rather have authors spouting off about politics than actors, singers, or athletes.  At least with an author, the sentence structure will be pretty good. 

If Stephen King writes an essay that can explain the fiscal cliff, I might pay $.99 to read that.

  1. He only lives a couple of miles from me. Do you want me to walk over to his house tomorrow and ask him for those free books for you? Just let me know…

  2. I must say, it was a pleasure reading an essay about gun control which is not about gun control, and one done with humor and even a bit of insight. Thanks for this.

  3. And if E.L.James wrote about gun control, it would be something about a quirky and mysterious billionaire teaching a young female student to use a gun, then taking it away.

  4. Nothing good ever come from writing angry (I guess unless you are Stephen King). Why then do I do most of my writing while angry? It’s just so motivating.

    Loved your humor and that you didn’t write about gun control. Nowadays that’s kind of refreshing.

    • Writing while angry is okay as long as you don’t publish it while angry. It’s the publishing part that gets people in trouble (and sometimes causes others to write and publish while angry). If I’m angry, I usually wait a day or two before publishing. It’s less entertaining for others, but it keeps me out of trouble.

  5. I’d be curious to read it too, just to see what he says, but you’re right: I’m not going to pay to read an essay. The problem with an issue as polarizing as gun control is that almost no one can be convinced (except perhaps by personal experience). People are just entrenched on either side and firing attacks back and forth. But of course, I’m a Canadian, so I’m staying out of the whole thing.

  6. Good piece. Living here in Ireland we have had gun control for years, and yet lived in a civil war since the 20’s basically. Laws won’t change people in a road to Damascus flash of light, they will change how people use guns. I agree that a 25 page essay is an opinion and not an avenue to revenue too.

  7. “Maybe Sue Grafton could write about her views on guns, but she’d probably write an alphabet series of 26 essays and title the first one “A is for Automatic.” (This made me snort in my coffee)

    I love Stephen King. He is like your grumpy liberal arts grandpa.

    • I still think of Stephen King as a younger middle-aged guy because that’s what he was when I read his books, but that was 20 or 30 years ago, so I guess you’re right; he’s like a grumpy grandpa.

  8. I once heard a comedian joke that Stephen King could sell the receipt to his grocery bill and people would buy it. Now I know that’s true.

  9. I remember King in On Writing saying that he would never go back and rewrite one of his books because he’d be essentially ruining the story and stealing from that younger version of him. I respected that a great deal. Then he went back and rewrote The Gunslinger, for #%*(‘s sake. I like a lot of King’s older writing but I think he should stick to painkillers now and leave writing to the people who have a reason to do it. Somewhere along the way he lost track of what he was doing.

  10. Simply put, this is the best post I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. That is a wicked sense of humor you’ve got. I…have a lot to learn… Anyway, I wanted to stop by and say thanks for liking my post, “Down-Home Butter;” but this post grabbed me and I had to read it all the way through. Thanks for being excellent!

  11. I really like reading your posts, so I nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. He is a link to my post about the award and your nomination. Congratulations and I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  12. I had no idea – and you have sparked my interest … I might have to buy that – celebs using their status to promote or demote anything can be a slippery slope – clearly there is a right way and a wrong way … too bad we can’t make another Amendment that only the smart, well-read, well-spoken ones can comment in public 🙂

  13. By the way, SK’s essay on guns is now a free audiobook on
    I did buy it on Kindle, and read it when it came out. It meandered and went into detail about his Bachman novel, Rage, which he has tried to get removed from circulation because he felt like it was the right thing to do. And eventually, he proposes some middle-ground for both parties to meet, which will likely never happen because of the extreme perspective of each party.
    Is it a good read – yes. SK is indeed, a wordsmith. Is it a real solution – I don’t think so, but what do I know. And finally – should SK even open his mouth about this subject – like the celebrities who get involved in politics mentioned in the blog here, I don’t think King has the credentials. Journalists, certainly do, don’t get me wrong there. But authors of some of the most popular, violent novels on the shelf should probably be conscious of the glass houses they live in before throwing a stone.

  14. Viola Lilac Indue permalink

    I cracked up reading this…Frey sucks. I couldn’t get through his garbage of a book. What editor is going to say no to an angry Stephen King, haha, so true. 😛

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