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Stephen King ~ Thoughts on writing a novel with a Waterman Fountain Pen


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21 replies to this topic

#1 dragon899

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 13:44

I was listening to an older interview with Stephen King and was interested to learn that he actually wrote one of his more recent books the old fashioned way (long hand ~ without computer) using a Waterman fountain pen. I searched the forums here and didn't find that this had ever been brought up, and thought some might find this an interesting piece of trivia. One of those things a collector of Waterman pens would share at dinner or around a campfire.

Link to the youtube post where I found this out.



(Stephen actually brought one of his ledger books to the interview and discusses the benefits of writing long hand as opposed to a word processor)

I found it a really fascinating interview...hope some of you do as well.


Mike


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#2 Titivillus

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 14:01

This has been discussed as I remember referring to the intro to one of the Dark Tower series where he mentions the pens he used.


Kurt

#3 Ghost Plane

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 15:20

Hmm. Another writer using Watermans. Now if I can only have a 10th of his success! hmm1.gif

#4 Bartimaeus

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 16:03

QUOTE (dragon899 @ Oct 31 2008, 02:44 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I was listening to an older interview with Stephen King and was interested to learn that he actually wrote one of his more recent books the old fashioned way (long hand ~ without computer) using a Waterman fountain pen.

I only heard two things about the book (Dreamcatcher), so it may not be entirely fair to post it here:
a.) that the book was no good
b.) that the pen was a cartridge filler
For many here b.) might explain a.). cool.gif

Edit: oops, you have to be careful here with the letter b followed by a closing bracket. It turns into a smiley.

Edited by Bartimaeus, 31 October 2008 - 16:04.


#5 RLTodd

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 16:12

AIR, he went to the pen because his macular degeneration was causing severe problems with using a word processor.

I think the fountain pen, rather than the customary BP or RB, was because someone gave him one so he used it.


YMMV

#6 Titivillus

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 17:01

QUOTE (Bartimaeus @ Oct 31 2008, 11:03 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (dragon899 @ Oct 31 2008, 02:44 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I was listening to an older interview with Stephen King and was interested to learn that he actually wrote one of his more recent books the old fashioned way (long hand ~ without computer) using a Waterman fountain pen.

I only heard two things about the book (Dreamcatcher), so it may not be entirely fair to post it here:
a.) that the book was no good
b.) that the pen was a cartridge filler
For many here b.) might explain a.). cool.gif



my two comments:
a) didn't really like dreamcatcher but many of his recent books have not really been enjoyable to me
cool.gif (I'm sure you can do better) all the arrogant filler-snobs who say that a cartridge filler is a lesser pen! thumbup.gif

Kurt


#7 techman

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 17:45

I'd love to get a look at the original. That would be a collectors item.

#8 RLTodd

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 19:02

(1) Agree that "Dreamcatcher" was not good. In either an absolute sense compared to what is available in print or a relative sense as compared to his other works. One of those ones where I felt short changed even for a five dollar COSTCO paperback. But then the movie was even worse. (Not fair to blame King, as script butchery is a common Hollywood attribute. Sometimes they just buy the novel for the title.)

(2) Since Mr. King suffers from Macular Degeneration I would think that even a cartridge loader would be somewhat of an inconvenience for him.


Edited by RLTodd, 31 October 2008 - 22:47.

YMMV

#9 Ernst Bitterman

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 21:59

Filler method aside, I do remember feeling that the best way to read Dreamcatcher was to play "Which of His Own Works is King Re-Using?" There's very few of his novels that don't put in an appearance in that one. The film was indeed worse.

And yes, there are some sour grapes involved in that. I'm sure the vast sacks of mainly-well-deserved money will cushion the harshness of my comments.

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It's mainly pens, just now....

Oh, good heavens. He's got a blog now, too.

 

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#10 dcwaites

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 23:37

Stephen King has written a book on writing, called, strangely enough "On Writing". It is an excellent book on the craft of writing.

It appears, though, that one of my bookshelves has hidden my copy and won't give it back, otherwise I would check to see if he says anything about writing tools (pens, typewriters, word processors) as against writing techniques.


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And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices.”

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#11 Titivillus

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 00:50

QUOTE (dcwaites @ Oct 31 2008, 06:37 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Stephen King has written a book on writing, called, strangely enough "On Writing". It is an excellent book on the craft of writing.

It appears, though, that one of my bookshelves has hidden my copy and won't give it back, otherwise I would check to see if he says anything about writing tools (pens, typewriters, word processors) as against writing techniques.


He doesn't in that book

K


#12 Titivillus

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 00:52

QUOTE (dcwaites @ Oct 31 2008, 06:37 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Stephen King has written a book on writing, called, strangely enough "On Writing". It is an excellent book on the craft of writing.

It appears, though, that one of my bookshelves has hidden my copy and won't give it back, otherwise I would check to see if he says anything about writing tools (pens, typewriters, word processors) as against writing techniques.


yes some of his books are guess which other stories series he will put in. Hearts in Atlantis is one book I got to the end and threw away angry that I had spent that much time reading a purile piece of dreck. That had a few tiny pieces of his overriding 'dark tower' in it.

Kurt


#13 RLTodd

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 02:05

QUOTE ((bleep) @ Oct 31 2008, 05:50 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (dcwaites @ Oct 31 2008, 06:37 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Stephen King has written a book on writing, called, strangely enough "On Writing". It is an excellent book on the craft of writing.

It appears, though, that one of my bookshelves has hidden my copy and won't give it back, otherwise I would check to see if he says anything about writing tools (pens, typewriters, word processors) as against writing techniques.


He doesn't in that book

K


As I recall most of that book was his life story. About how he writes, as I recall, it was he just writes.......................... Gets an idea and goes with it. Which kind of makes sense. I frequently get the impression that he definitely does make it up as he goes along.





YMMV

#14 dragon899

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 04:14

[/quote]

As I recall most of that book was his life story. About how he writes, as I recall, it was he just writes.......................... Gets an idea and goes with it. Which kind of makes sense. I frequently get the impression that he definitely does make it up as he goes along.
[/quote]

That was the impression I got from that youtube video I mentioned in my opening comment. Since he had written that novel out in long-hand, they asked him how he shuffles paragraphs around etc...for the final copy. Stephen just basically said that he never does that...he might delete some things here and there in the final edit...but nothing gets re-arranged because it's a story. It's as if he just makes it up as he goes...or has it all worked out in his head already and it's just a matter of writing it down.

I'm reading through the "On Writing" book currently as well. So far it has pretty much just been autobiographical with interesting pieces thrown in here and there on his concept of writing. The autobiographical stories are very interesting...but as an inspiring writer I'm hoping he shares a little more "how to" in the latter part of the book...I guess we'll see.


#15 Ghost Plane

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 12:54

Steve's a "pantser" as it's known in the trade. So'm I. So is Nora Roberts. [I keep invoking millionaire authors in hope it rubs off!] Instead of outlining into meticulous detail every chapter and turn of a book, a "pantser" writes by the seat of their pants. We don't know how our stories end until they do! It makes them more character driven as we're dependent upon things happening to and by our characters instead of bending the character to the story line.

Sometimes all it takes is a few articles off the news or a handful of post its with notes on them and a book is born.

#16 RLTodd

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 16:48

Writing by the seat of ones pants sounds like a good description. I note that Mr. King said he started writing very early and once he started he just kept on doing it. It sounded like he got past Jerry Pournelle's "first million words go directly into the trash can" fule before he was out of his teens.
YMMV

#17 dogpoet

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 17:18

QUOTE (Ghost Plane @ Nov 1 2008, 12:54 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Steve's a "pantser" as it's known in the trade. So'm I. So is Nora Roberts. [I keep invoking millionaire authors in hope it rubs off!] Instead of outlining into meticulous detail every chapter and turn of a book, a "pantser" writes by the seat of their pants. We don't know how our stories end until they do! It makes them more character driven as we're dependent upon things happening to and by our characters instead of bending the character to the story line.

Sometimes all it takes is a few articles off the news or a handful of post its with notes on them and a book is born.

That said, King has made a few snotty comments about writers who do outline stuff first not being proper writers, and belonging in Academia instead. I do wonder if he applies this to his occasional colleague Peter Straub*, Neil Gaiman (who King's written a number of glowing blurbs for, and outlines everything he writes at more than short story length to within an inch of its life before he starts writing), or Richard Matheson (who King's fond of citing as an influence, and plotted out his two best novels in advance of writing them).

King's obviously a very successful writer, and he's produced some excellent stuff in his time, but I really do think he's talking (Potty Mouth) on that one. Apart from anything else, an outline isn't a straightjacket, it's a guide. If something contrary occurs to you while you're writing, you can dump it and go with that, and few people write from guidelines so meticulously anal that they rule out including anything that hasn't been plotted in advance.

*(Now I think about it, both The Talisman and The Black House were plotted out in advance before they started writing either novel, weren't they?)

#18 Coyotebd

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 21:41

Stephen King makes the point that to write one must write. Other writers will say the same thing. I've been that person who's looked for tricks, secrets and techniques to help me write instead of actually writing. On a fountain pen forum there must be a few who looked to the pen for the answer to their own failings. That's how I came to find fountain pens, after all.

It comes down to this: The less of a physical chore writing is for you, the more likely you will be to do it. Since writing is the only way to write, removing things that keep you from writing is good. Just be aware that writing will result in you having writing something, not removing things that keep you from writing.

As for his statement about outlining. We all have a need to feel that what we are doing isn't only acceptable, but the preferable method. So, since he doesn't outline, outlining is a bad thing to do.

I find I extensively outline. I call it my first draft. Frequently I will never read my first draft but immediately start my second.

#19 Philip1209

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 22:15

That was a really interesting interview. Did he use Florida Blue to write the book, then? If so, then doesn't that mean that the original manuscript would be very prone to fading over time if exposed to light?

#20 dogpoet

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 19:18

QUOTE (Coyotebd @ Nov 18 2008, 09:41 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It comes down to this: The less of a physical chore writing is for you, the more likely you will be to do it. Since writing is the only way to write, removing things that keep you from writing is good. Just be aware that writing will result in you having writing something, not removing things that keep you from writing.

Word. That part of King's argument I have no argument with at all.






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