“I’ll tell you a story,” he says. “Just one story, and let it stand for all the stories of a certain man’s childhood. Because stories are what I do.” He looks at the rising cigarette smoke. “I net them from the pool. I’ve told you about the pool, right?”
“Yes, Scott. Where we all go down to drink.”
“Yep. And cast our nets. Sometimes the really brave fisherfolk – the Austens, the Dostoevskys, the Faulkners – even launch boats and go out to where the big ones swim, but that pool is tricky. It’s bigger than it looks, it’s deeper than any man can tell, and it changes its aspect, especially after dark.” Stephen King, Lisey’s Story (New York: Scribner, 2006) 224.
This paragraph really struck me. There is a lot more in Lisey’s Story about the pool, but this description was the one that stuck in a novel I haven’t even finished reading yet. The pool, in particular this description of it, felt like an intriguing and apt way to describe where writers get their stories. Where do writers get their stories? Like anything else, I guess different writers probably get them from different places, though maybe it is all the same pool and everyone just perceives it differently, who’s to say?
I don’t know where my stories come from, though this pool seems as likely a place as anywhere else. I don’t feel like I’ve ever gone down to the banks and cast my own net, more like the fish have jumped out of the water and attacked me violently. Maybe the very act of writing is casting a net, or maybe I just leave a baited line that I check every so often without even really being aware of it.
There are many interesting things about this pool I am confident in ascertaining from what I know of it so far. The pool is bottomless and fully stocked all the time with many undiscovered species. If you fail to catch anything, it is you, not the pool, to blame. The fish range from small and plain to wondrous, almost unfathomable creatures, some of which even change form. You are free to practice catch and release, but don’t be fooled by what the pool gives you. Say you catch a medium, plain, perch-looking fish, but halfway through filleting that sucker, you realize you’re up to you eyeballs in slimy guts standing in a carcass as big as a whale. The pool can do that, it’s up to you how you deal with your catch.
I don’t believe that I have ever ventured off the safe banks of this pool, and I cast a shallow net. What I catch from there is more than enough for me to handle at the present time. As Scott implies in Lisey’s Story, for all of its wonders, the pool can also be a very dangerous place and one would be wise to never forget that.
- Josh Boone To Bring Stephen King’s Lisey’s Story To Big Screen (firewireblog.com)
- Reading the King: Lisey’s Story, Part 1 (maxdickeson.wordpress.com)
- Reading the King: Lisey’s Story, Part 2 (maxdickeson.wordpress.com)