On Stephen King and his Essay about Guns
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.
- Stephen King writes post-Newtown essay on guns (boston.com)