Throughout history, failures or setbacks have often led creative people to discover something greater or better than the original plan. At the very least, valuable lessons were learned. Friday fudge is about creatives persevering past the obstacles, and finding delicious rewards for their tenacity and effort that they could never have imagined or hoped for in the first place.
He was just polishing off his third Miller High Life Tall Boy of the day. Taking a last slurpy sip, he turned his head to check the time on the clock radio on a shelf on the paneled wall above the dryer.
It was 3:10 p.m and the crescendo of Free Bird by Lynard Skynyrd crackled through the tiny black speaker.
If he didn’t get a move on, he’d be late to teach his creative writing class at the local college. Letting out a loud belch, he crushed the beer can on his left knee, spilling a few remaining drops on his brown corduroy trousers.
“Ah, shit,” he exclaimed and stood up rather steadily considering the amount he had already consumed.
He pulled back his arm in an exaggerated arc,leaned back on one foot imitating a pro baseball pitcher, and hurled the crushed can into the open wastebasket by his desk.
“Strrrrrrike!” he hissed as he lifted his leather book bag by its strap off the back of a wooden chair, and fished in his corduroy jacket pockets for his car keys.
A moment later he was jostling them in his palm like a pair of dice at a craps table and exited the laundry room of the double-wide trailer, slamming the thin metal door closed with a jab of his elbow.
She was sitting outside reading on a plaid blanket in the spring sunshine with a sleeping baby and toddler beside her.
He didn’t notice how tired she looked for such a young bride.
“Honey, I’m on my way to school!” he said, waving the book bag in her general direction before he got into the clunky Buick with the bad transmission and drove away.
As I was taking in some of the details about their humble circumstances in the early 1970s, it moved me to read how King recognized and deeply appreciated his wife’s unwavering support (and he still must after weathering 42 years together) :
For me writing has always been best when it’s intimate, as sexy as skin on skin. With Carrie, I felt as if I were wearing a rubber wet-suit I couldn’t pull off..Tabby had the pages. She’d spied them while emptying my wastebasket, had shaken the cigarette ashes off the crumpled balls of paper, smoothed them out, and sat down to read them…”You’ve got something here,” she said. “I really think you do.”
I couldn’t help asking myself, What if Tabitha King had not discovered the three crumpled up written pages in the wastebasket? What if she had simply dumped the contents into a garbage bag and disposed of it along with the household refuge collection for the week?
Would Stephen King still have achieved publishing and commercial success as soon as he did – still be the prolific and hugely successful writer he is to this day – had he tried to sell one of the other two manuscripts he had in his filing cabinet instead?
We’ll never know that answer. The author trusted his wife and best friend (and fellow novelist) enough to persevere through the doubt and feelings of failure and uncertainty, and worked diligently to get that work finished and sent out.
Carrie was published by Doubleday in 1974, became a commercial hit with a movie adaptation, and the fateful climb to fame and fortune for horror-writing master Stephen King was set in motion.
Would Stephen King have become the popular fiction superstar he is today if his wife hadn’t steered him, motivated him so stalwartly? He admits himself he probably wouldn’t have gotten very far in his writing career had it not been for his wife’s relentless support:
My wife made a crucial difference during those two years I spent teaching at Hampden. If she had suggested that the time I spent writing stories…was wasted time, I think a lot of the heart would have gone out of me. Tabby never voiced a single doubt, however. Her support was a constant, one of the few good things I could take as a given. And whenever I see a first novel dedicated to a wife (or husband) I smile and think: There’s someone who knows.
The encouragement from a trusted loved one, be it your spouse, your friend, a relative or your pet seems essential for the artist to help them soldier on despite battling the demons of self-doubt and self-sabotage. Another pair of caring eyes and ears can let you know your work is worth finishing and sending out into the world when you are unsure and faltering.
How about you? Do you have a trusted encourager who has made all the difference as you progress in your creative life? Please feel free to share in the Comments.