On Writing: Permission Slip

Yes, I did finish Stephen King’s book On Writing a while back. Additionally I have been considering my writing support system and community a lot more. Online community harbored through social media, local RWA group, Tuesday night critique group or midlist authors that have either befriended or mentored me in some way – even if unintentional on their part. Most of all, it has me considering some of my habits. I’ll try and break some of them down (mostly for my benefit, you understand) over the next week or so, but today I am focusing on the things that fit into the Permission Slip that was given by Stephen King in his book. Well, his permission slip and my own extrapolation of it.

The Nook

I used to be the traditional crazy book guy. Although attributed to my love of books, I also date it back to high school where my Freshman history teacher once said, “Books are a sign of success, if you can afford to buy books you are enjoying some measure of success.”  And while I harbored a library that threatened to take over our house at one point the realization came to me that “some measure of success” could also mean “how often you are willing to eat ramen or mac and cheese” as much as it could mean financial stability.

Either way, a couple of months back my wife not only gave me permission, but practically talked me into buying a Nook. I still miss the cover art from time to time. I have nostalgic feelings towards that musty smell that can come from the pages of an honest to goodness tree murdering book. At the same time, I am enjoying the compactness of my new digital library and am loving the convenience of it. Finishing a book and with the press of a button or two I can have the next one open and ready to go.

This is mostly my permission slip to myself. It is acceptable to purchase most of my books digitally as it declutters the house and prevents me from getting decluttered from the house. Of course if we are talking a local author or a member of the League of Reluctant Adults I will likely still get a print version of the book. I do still have a significant obsession with the personalized copy.


My wife commutes to Milwaukee for work which means she listens to a lot of audiobooks. At least one a week. She also listens to them as she falls asleep. This characteristic has some distinctive downsides when it comes to me falling asleep, but that is another story. For my own part, I see audiobooks as “cheating” and so have left them off of my 52 Weeks list. I have never opened a single Stephanie Plum book – but have heard all but the most recent one. That one never seems to be back in at the library.

Stephen King talks about reading about 75 books a year and always having at least one audiobook in the car with him. I am good, but even trying 50 books this year is significantly cutting into my writing time. As such I have taken King’s use of audiobooks as a Permission Slip to start using them myself. I checked out On Writing from the library as well as Personal Demon by Kelley Armstrong and White Witch, Black Curse by Kim Harrison.

As of this writing (and my large pause in completing it) I am almost done with Personal Demon. Not only does this book skirt the edge of paranormal romance – and personally I think it is a paranormal romance – but I am also noticing I spend a fraction of the time in the car as I used to. Also I have noticed that when it is not my wife’s audiobook in the CD player she tends to talk while it is on more than usual.


This is a tough one for me. As you can see by the 52 Weeks tab at the top of this blog, I am attempting to get through 50 books in a year. I am behind on that goal currently. I have been going through a distracted portion of the summer, and did not have a long stretch of vacation to dedicate towards reading and writing like I had planned. But this is really only part of it.

Last December we went to the holiday party that my wife’s company threw in Milwaukee. My wife loves to dance and will generally dance all night at these. My spinal injury does not allow me this freedom like it used to, so I let her dance. A couple years back I sat, watched her dance with her coworkers and drank – I have no idea how that night ended. In an effort to not repeat that, this past year I brought along my copy of Blood of the Demon by Diana Rowland. In case you were wondering, I don’t really need much light for reading.

Throughout the night my wife kept coming up to me and telling me that people we asking me what was wrong that I was sitting there reading a book at the table. She didn’t really have a problem with it, but apparently I was making quite the scene. The wife of the president of the company even came over and stole my book, using it to lure me out onto the dance floor. I played it up to be a good sport and make for some good photos for this coming year’s presentation, but once I had my book back I returned to the table.

Stephen King explained in On Writing that while it might be considered rude to read in certain public situations that not only was it acceptable, it was damn near a requirement. So this is my permission slip to read at parties like this, even if it is slightly socially awkward. Ironically all the people my wife works with know me as Zombie Joe. None of the people I work with do. You would think they would already know that I am eccentric.


Last but never least is the idea that writing is non-productive time. My wife never thinks this and I couldn’t be happier about that. King states that this is one of those things that makes writing infinitely easier – having a supportive spouse. I agree. But that doesn’t stop my mind from coming up with excuses as to why I should not be writing. Well maybe not talking me out of writing, but making me feel guilty for doing it. Especially with things like Wednesday Night Encounters and my ongoing D&D Campaign I run Sunday nights for friends. Shocked I am a gamer? Guess you should have read my blog post on 50 Facts on Zombies.

The end result of all of this work and sitting with a laptop in my… well… lap… plinking away at the keys is to get some short stories and a couple manuscripts out there “making the rounds” and finding someone who would like to put them into print. Something that I hear is completely possible. So not only is it worth the time, I hear from King and my wife that I have an open permission slip to do so. I should probably use it to finish up that short story for that zombie anthology submission and not more blogging. At least no more blogging until that submission is complete and ready for editing.


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