Paulelmo's Blog

Stephen King, James Dent, Hunter Thompson, and EB White walk into a bar…

Hello, friends. Our good friend from India, self-help thinker and writer Ravi Singh, mentioned something yesterday  morning that I’ve heard many times, but always love hearing. He said that I write as if I’m talking to the reader, which I do. I don’t always do it, but usually.

Those of you who have been around long enough have heard me talk about how I always went to the page for a pending spoken word performance with this thought in mind: “What will I want to say once I get up there? What will be worthy to share with the listeners?” have heard me talk about this. My very first of those pieces, “Keeping up with the Beckners,” detailed just that, actually asking those questions of myself.

I don’t recall just now where it comes from, but I love the phrase, “What is worthy of the pass?”. It’s so important to me as a writer to decide that; if I come to the page and just lay any old drivel down, you’re not coming back too often, if at all, and I’m not just placating or pandering when I say that this isn’t possible without you. There is no sense in writing if there’s no one to read it, and the reader is just as important to me as the writer.

Those four men in the title had so much to do with this. I grew up on Stephen King novels. Save the latest that he co-authors with his son, I’ve read them all. When I was a teenager and I’d get a new King book, getting the novel itself was awesome, but it was also important to me to get the “Foreward,” to find what he had to say to me, the “Constant Reader.” That was like the VH1 Storytellers aspect of the thing, not so much what the story was but why the story was and how it came to be.

That mattered to me; it honored me. That here this man was, the biggest selling novelist of the day, and he took a few minutes to talk to me about how the process had happened. I felt important, and I liked it.

James Dent, humorist and slice of life columnist at The Charleston Gazette throughout my formative years, was also a big influence on this. Dent wrote the humor column, The Gazetteer, from 1962 until his death in 1992. While I didn’t read the column that often, it struck me as just so nice and pleasant when I did. He wasn’t writing a story; rather, he was telling you a story, just as if you were sitting on a park bench together and one of you was whittling. It wasn’t lost on him how important the reader was to the process.

The journalistic styles of Hunter Thompson and E.B. White also spoke volumes to me. EB White would write the most mundane article, and if someone just told you what it was about, and you didn’t read it, you’d say, “Well, that doesn’t sound interesting at all.” Then you’d read it, and you’d be asking, “How in the world did that dude know that would be interesting?” White showed us that life, even at its most humdrum, when appreciated for the simple nature of what it is, is interesting.

And then you have Hunter, Dr. Thompson, the mad gonzo man himself. Hunter wrote to you in such a way that you experience the madness of his life with him. As the reader, thoughts of fear and loathing aren’t just words in titles, they’re the white knuckle grip we have on the fearful reality he takes us to. I dare anyone to read “First Trip to Mescality” and try to not get caught up in the sickening paranoia and stress of it.

These men know/knew that we. the readers, matter, that there’s no reason to do it without us. What a lovely form of respect that is.

I have that respect for you, friends. When I call you “beautiful people,” I do so first because of the respect you show by showing up here and telling me that what I’m doing matters. Each visit, each click, strengthens my resolve to this. With those actions, you spur me on, by telling me that you understand why I do what I do, and that it is worthy of the effort.

Because of that, I do write as if I’m talking to you, because you’re worth it. We’re worth it together.

So, thanks, friends. I often say that you can’t inagine how much your reading means; hopefully you now have s better idea,

Be well, beautiful people. I hope we’ll be talking soon.

2 Replies to “Stephen King, James Dent, Hunter Thompson, and EB White walk into a bar…”

  1. Lovely post.I liked it very much not because you have given my reference(though i am obliged) but because you write from your heart.Keep doing what you feel like doing without bothering what others think about it. Always listen to your inner voice and do what it asks you to do.you can never go wrong because it is God’s voice and His wish.
    Continue writing for ever,PA! and i will continue to read them.

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