Thursday, February 22, 2024

Steve Cameron blog: Saturday, May 2: Not feeling the joy

| May 2, 2020 8:42 AM

Still here, but ...

Having a bad couple of days.

My back, which is almost certainly facing yet another surgery, has been hurting so much that it’s hard to get comfortable anywhere.

And my right eye, on which I already HAD surgery in March and assumed was now improving, suddenly has gotten fuzzy.

Toss in a pandemic, and I haven’t exactly been lit up with joy.

So, what should you do while feeling so glum?

For me, it was digging into an interview with author Stephen King.

I know, your first thought is that a horror writer isn’t the guy you need for sunshine and lollipops — but King the person is not the same as King the author (and slayer of adults, children and pets in ways too gruesome to mention).

In fact, the closest thing I have to a work manual is King’s non-fiction book, “On Writing,” in which he describes not only his craft (and mine), but how he got there, how he works and how aspiring authors might survive.

That all sounds kind of dull, right?

Except that King can be absolutely cackle-out-loud funny.

He can slip hilarious descriptions into serious subjects, while making fun of himself and even some of the most unthinkable topics which wind up in his novels.

I went in search of a recent magazine Q&A with King, conducted by David Marchese for the New York Times Magazine.

And why did Marchese seek out King just now?

Marchese’s take ...

“Here was an opportunity to see how an author who so compellingly depicted a rampaging pandemic — in his apocalyptic novel ‘The Stand’ — and who understands so profoundly what scares us, was seeing the world these days.”

As weird as this may sound, King is a source of grounding to me, writing novels that I wouldn’t dare read but still being an ordinary (kind of ...) family man with a great sense of humor, who ...

Makes me love my line of work.

And I needed a lift.

Like this, for instance ...

Marchese asked King about a game in which the whole family participates.

The idea is that they set up a scenario in which a protagonist is in very deep trouble. They spell out the the grim realities facing him, and then everyone in the family just wings it with a conclusion.

Marchese asked King to try one.

MARCHESE: OK, here’s the scenario: It takes place now, during the pandemic.

A germophobe is afraid to leave his house, but he has run out of food. His phone is broken, and he can’t order anything online, because the food-delivery services never have an empty slot.

You take it from there. What happens next?

KING: OK, so here’s this guy, right?

He’s afraid to go out. I mean, he’s really afraid to go out, because the virus is everywhere.

This guy is washing his hands compulsively. He keeps imagining these germs crawling all over his hands and up his arms, and he’s thinking: Well, the house is pretty good.

I Lysoled everything and I’m wearing my gloves, but I’m so, so hungry. What am I going to do for food?

Then he looks around, and he says to his dog: ‘‘Fido. Come here, Fido.’’

Okay, that’s a little dark for you pet lovers, but you see why King can make me smile — and especially, how he gives me the feeling that we’re all in this together.

Like ...

He’s wondering about the food chain, too – but rest assured that his dog, Molly, is in no danger.

At least not yet.

See you next week.

I’m hoping it’ll be cheerier.

“Breathe In. Breathe Out. Move On.”


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