I recently read this article, in which the writer claims he does not read Stephen King because his tastes are more refined. I was offended, not only because I am a Stephen King fan, but because I don’t think an author deserves to be slammed simply because not everyone can be William Faulkner or James Joyce or Ernest Hemingway. And to be honest, not every writer wants to be a literary figure whose works are studied in college classrooms for years to come. What bothered me the most about the article was when the writer was talking about The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon:
The writing is at times so weak — so pat, so lazy — that I no longer imagined that King was attempting anything other than getting his story from Point A to Point B, even if he was doing that none too quickly. At times, the novel read like not very good YA fiction.
I read The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon quite a long time ago, and while I don’t think it’s Stephen King’s best book, I would say that it is far better than most YA fiction out there, if it was labeled YA, which it is not. I don’t think much YA fiction is all that good (and I read it a lot), but even so… people enjoy it. Its intended audience enjoys it. And that’s all that counts. (I personally don’t think the article writer reads a lot of YA fiction. Not classy enough for him, perhaps.)
Stephen King writes because he loves it. He can’t do anything else but write. After he got hit by a car and nearly died, he didn’t think he would write again, but he did. Not to make money (he already had plenty of that by that point in his career), but because he loved writing. And that is the reason all writers should write. It’s great to be a writer who is world-renowned years after his or her death, like Marcel Proust or Pearl S. Buck. It’s great to be a writer like J.K. Rowling or like Stephen King, with works that aren’t literary, but that have a huge audience. And it’s great to be a writer whose works only get read by two or three people on the Internet… just as long as you love what you do.
There are always going to be people like the guy who wrote that article, and ridiculously intelligent literary critics like Harold Bloom, who think that anything that’s not in the “Western Canon” is garbage. But there’s no reason to be a snob about what you like. People are like that about music, movies… pretty much any form of entertainment. If it’s not obscure or it’s not a classic, then it must be terrible. I like all kinds of books and music. I don’t care whether the author or artist is unknown or not. If I like the creation, then I like the creation… and that’s good enough for me. As long as the artist put love and care into it… then it’s good enough.