Duane McGuire Blog

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Reading Stephen King: A Memoir

Category: Random Thoughts, Piano Technology
Date: 2021-11-22

I enjoy writing. And reading. My friend Jeff, who has enjoyed some of my writing here, suggested that I read Stephen King's memoir, "On Writing". I've been reading it and loving it.

I didn't really know what to expect, except that a Stephen King memoir might not be quite so scary as Stephen King's "Salem's Lot"! I was right; it's not so scary, but it does not disappoint. Even when writing about himself and his work, Mr. King paints with words as only a master storyteller can. I experience his memoir as an entertaining, and genuine view into the mind of a genius. But more deeply, by peering into his mind, I also come to appreciate our commonality. Now that's a surprise! I'll not claim the genius of Stephen King, but I'm happy to recognise our shared humanity, struggles, and good works.

I'm not a writer. As I said at the top, "I enjoy writing." That's a distinction that I'm now certain Stephen King would agree with. Also, I'm not a pianist. I enjoy playing the piano. That's a distinction that has been useful to me in my work as a piano technician. Clients often ask, "Do you play?", and I routinely respond, "I enjoy playing the piano." (Of course, after tuning their piano, if they ask, "Do you play as well?" I'm sure to respond, "Well, not as well as some folks!") I want to make clear what my orientation to the piano is, because among my clients are folks that have dedicated their lives to becoming master performers at the piano. They are the players; I enjoy playing. In this context, I loved what Stephen King had to say about talent and dedication as he described the necessary regimen for being a writer:

Talent renders the whole idea of rehearsal meaningless; when you find something at which you are talented, you do it (whatever it is) until your fingers bleed or your eyes are ready to fall out of your head. Even when no one is listening (or reading, or watching), every outing is a bravura performance, because you as the creator are happy. Perhaps even ecstatic. That goes for reading and writing as well as for playing a musical instrument, hitting a baseball, or running the four-forty.

Ah yes, that did resonate! Because sometimes, I'm just plain ecstatic working in the shop, solving problems in pianos, and doing what I do! Yes. I'm happy to work until my fingers are raw, my vision has gone blurry, and it's time to save some for the next day. (Sometimes. And sometimes, the repetitive tasks are just plain work.)

Thanks, Stephen King, for affirming my talent (as experienced on the best days).

Ecstacy in the shop? Yeah, this is what we're talkin' about.

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