Armen Chakmakjian

Famous and Self-Abuse…

In Literature on October 15, 2009 at 11:55 pm

I’m reading Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft on my Kindle.  I thought it appropriate since I’m trying to be a writer, why not get advice from arguably the most successful fiction writer of the last 30 years.   Now mind you I didn’t say the best, I just said most successful.  Truly, he is the Mark Twain of our generation, more on the fear side anyway.  Anyway, I’m about one-third of the way through the book and I just spent that 3rd learning about how poor he was, how much people in Maine smoke and drink, and how he became famous during a time he engaged in serious substance abuse.

I’ll admit, on those late nights 3 years ago when I wrote my book I sometimes had a glass of wine or a scotch on the rocks but to read his story, he doesn’t even remember writing Cujo.  Damn!

The reason I thought of this was that he finally started to get to the craft of writing about this third of the way through the book.  I was wondering if he was going to tell me at all.   Then my mind wandered to Michael Jackson and Oprah and Jim Morrison and CSN and Ringo and Barbara Bach and I started thinking:  Are there any famous people who don’t have a sordid or pitiful past?  Is it a pre-requisite to notoriety to engage in self destructive behavior, or live a lie for many years?

I wonder.  I’m also simultaneously reading a biography on Andrew Carnegie.  It’s fascinating also.  He was close to the richest and close to the most famous person at the close of the 19th Century.  But his story doesn’t sound the same.   I don’t know.

Hemingway is another notorious drinker.   What is it?

So as I sit here reading about these guys, looking for inspiration to write, sometimes play my guitar, do this and that and maybe school…I wonder, are they all so exceptional that they (unlike lots of other people who fail miserably) rose above their self-abuse, their sordid past…or was that past necessary for them to have nothing to lose so they could excel (aka not care about failure).

Just sitting here philosophizing…


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