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Thursday, January 31, 2002

Forgot to say... I've been reading Diana Wynne Jones's WITCH WEEK to Maddy recently. Several nights ago, Holly, over twice Maddy's age, came in and listened to a chapter (it was a book she'd read many times). Then the next night Holly came back. And the night after that. And now Holly sits on the floor and does her homework while I read WITCH WEEK to them both.

And it makes me incredibly happy.

(As a side note; I've been listening to an awful lot of Alan Bennett over the last month, because the BBC are bringing out his backlist on CD, and I listen whenever I'm driving. I didn't think it had had any effect on me until I sat down to start reading WITCH WEEK and noticed it seemed to be coming out of my mouth in a faintly querulous Leeds accent. Maddy, who had heard odder, didn't seem to mind, and the reading-WITCH-WEEK voice has now dissolved back into the primordial slime that my accent has turned into over the last decade.)

I just read on Netscape that Stephen King was going to quit writing books after his latest contract expires ( 5 books, I think ). Do you have any comments ?

Sure. I'm proud of him. It takes a lot of guts to decide to stop doing something that you can do and that works, when you're finished. (For me it was finishing Sandman.)

Not writing, when you don't feel you have anything to say, is an art that very few writers have mastered.

It's something King's been talking about in life (the New Yorker interview several years ago) and in his fiction (the end of Bag of Bones) for a while.

Having said that, I'm not at all sure that I believe that Steve is really going permanently to hang up his pen. Writing seems so tied up with who he is. (If Peter Straub announced he was retiring from writing novels to become a jazz critic, or if I announced that I was going to retire and grow pumpkins, it might be a little more credible... If a Terry Pratchett or a Stephen King announce their retiring from writing, I nod sagely and think "That'll last until the next time you have a good idea and want to get it down on paper...")

I have no doubt that if Stephen King gets an idea for a book, he'll write it. If he likes the book he wrote, he'll publish it.

Either way, not-writing or writing once more, I wish him the very best of luck.

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