March 2008

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a loyal and avid  fan of Stephen King.  I’ve got an entire large bookcase and part of another filled with hard copies of every book he’s ever released. 

When I was getting my Master’s degree in English, many of my peers looked down their noses at me for loving his writing so much.  After all, it was (raise snub nose here) “popular” tripe and mostly horror, certainly not “real” literature. I would venture to guess that most of these people had never read a word of King’s writing, otherwise I have no doubt that their opinions would have changed — at least in secret.

These same people had no idea that he was the author of the novella, The Shawshank Redemption, and the novels The Green Mile and Delores Claiborne, all three made into highly lauded and well respected films.

Interestingly enough, many of those people changed their minds around 2003 when King was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Book Foundation, an honor he shares with the likes of Arthur Miller, Eudora Welty and John Updike. Add to that the O Henry Award, the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters and the World Fantasy Award — to name only a few — and anyone would agree that Stephen King has become a well respected author among authors.

I’m proud to say I was ahead of the cusp on this one. I’ve been a fan since I first picked up Carrie in 1975, and I’ve never looked back. Each book has been better than the last, and I’ve read each voraciously, sometimes never stopping until my eyes closed on their own from exhaustion.  One of the first thrills for me, as a Stephen King fan, was realizing that he enjoyed mentioning something from one of his other books in each new book.  I lived to find that snippet, because only a true fan would know it when he or she saw it, and it as like a secret I shared with King himself.

This culminated in King’s epic opus: The Dark Tower, a seven book series that is, without a doubt, the best story I’ve ever read.  Reading it was joyful and painful, because I knew that, once I’d finished the 1000 to 3000 pages in one of the books, it meant I’d have to wait years before I’d get to start the next one.  Still, each time a new book in the series would come out, I’d start again from the beginning and read them all in order, relishing each moment I got to spend with Roland, Eddie, Suzanna, Jake and Oy. With every reading I laughed, I cried, I got angry and sad and happy. In those books, I not only entered worlds where I was completely enthralled, I learned to strive for only the best from myself, because she who does not expect the best from herself has forgotten the face of her father. 

(There is so much more I’d like to say, but I wouldn’t do anything to spoil the story for you. Just trust me when I say that, while you can read just that series and enjoy it completely, the real joy in reading it comes from reading all of King’s books and stories that came before.  Only then can you get the full impact of the tale. And then follow up and read all the books that have come after, and you’ll get a richer enjoyment from them as well.)

I’m currently reading his latest release, Duma Key, which I believe is one of his best books to date. I’m trying so hard to make it last, but as I round the corner to the last 90 pages, it’s so hard to make myself put it down. I love that I see so much of King himself in the protagonist, I love that I know that he’s going to wrench me out of my comfort zone in the end, and I love the story…such a great story.

King once said in one of his forwards or afterwards (I can’t remember which, but he writes them for his “constant readers,” and I am one of them.) that he enjoys taking his readers by the hand and walking with them around dark corners. (I’m paraphrasing, of couse.) It’s that feeling of being taken by the hand as I enter a foreign, dark and scary place that I love the most about Stephen King. He’s so much more than a horror novelist, so much more than a “popular” writer.

If you are one of the sad few who have never read his books and stories, I suggest a few of my favorites: The Stand (This is my favorite of his novels — I prefer the original version.), The Shining, Hearts of Atlantis, Lisey’s Story (Oh, my GOSH, what a beautiful story Lisey’s Story is!), Duma Key and, of course, The Dark Tower. (And if you read The Dark Tower, don’t forget to pick up his anthology, Everything’s Eventual, when you are finished with the series, so you can read the short story, The Little Sisters of Eluria and be happily surprised.)

And remember, he doesn’t just write horror. The Dark Tower isn’t horror, The Talisman isn’t horror, Lisey’s Story, isn’t horror, The Shawshank Redemption isn’t horror.

Have I convinced you yet? If not, let me take you by the hand as we walk around this dark corner. Don’t worry; I’ll protect you, and if I kiss you in the dark, please don’t be afraid. It’s only a kiss between friends.

Okay, I’m going to come right out and admit something to you.

I *hate* Daylight Savings Time. 

I don’t mean I dislike it. I mean I loathe and despise it. Daylight Savings Time is the DEVIL!

I know at one time it served a purpose.  Back in World War I, it was enacted to give people more daylight and save on fuel consumption for artificial lighting. But WWI was over a long time ago, and we still suffer through it. Last year, they even extended it by a month!  Why?  Still, all in the name of energy savings.

What about my energy?

The Monday after Daylight Savings Time begins is hard, but for some reason, Tuesday is worse.  I look around me today, and everyone is dragging ass.  We’ve all got headaches, we look like death warmed over, and no one is in a good mood.  Is it really worth all this exhaustion to save fossil fuels when there are obviously better ways?

In addition to the already mentioned negatives, consider that traffic accidents increase just after Dayliight Savings Time begins. So do violent crimes, according to some studies. Farmers, whose days begin very early, generally hate it, because they have to begin their work days in the dark.  So what’s it really good for other than making us all feel like crawling back into bed for a week or so?  Not much in my estimation.

I’ve got a much better idea, and over 1,000 US cities have already begun doing it. Forget Daylight Savings Time. Let it get dark. And instead of turning all the lights on in the city, TURN THEM OFF!  People sleep better!  Energy is saved at a rate much faster than DST saves it. 

Just look at this map of the U.S. at night. There are whole swaths of country that are dark.  What’s so wrong with that?  The answer is nothing. I say we go back to standard time and let nature take its course. I’m sure we’d all be much happier people!

Okay, I’m stepping off my soap box. I apologize for my crankiness, but at least I have an excuse! 

Daylight Savings Time — it’s the devil!


A few months ago, I was tired.

I was tired of working long hours for little recognition and even littler pay. I was tired of trying to ferret information I needed out of subject matter experts who were more From: in the latest office gossip than they were getting a job done well. I was tired of seeing people with less experience and talent get rewarded for work I had done. I was just tired of being tired.

Now that I’m not so tired, I can look back and clearly see that times like those are not good times to be making life changing decisions.

Tired Maggy thought it was time to step back a little, time to take a position that would be easy, time to move away from strategy sessions, company-changing decisions and endless headaches. Tired Maggy thought that a technical writing job would be easy and would allow her to rest and avoid headaches.

Tired Maggy had no idea how bored she’d be or how unfulfilled she’d be in a position like this.

Now that I can see through the eyes of one who is no longer tired, I’ve learned a big lesson about myself. Easy mode stresses me out. I need a challenge in order to be fulfilled. I need to be able to make a difference. I can’t just sit back on the sidelines and watch the action fly by without wanting to stick my foot in and trip things up a little.

Once I faced the facts, I realized that, while I am a writer who can author just about anything, the real me — the core me — is more of a communications strategist. From: communications can be daunting, but it is in that capacity that I’m most energized and fulfilled. I love how it feels when the cogs start turning, when I can look at the big picture and see the little things that can be tweaked to improve the business. I love being able to write a public relations piece that highlights the positives and minimizes the negatives. I love working out the particulars of crisis communication and then seeing the bad situation blow over as a result of my work. Most of all, I love that I am so good at knowing the right rhetorical stance to take on difficult communication.

So, as much as I like the people I work with, particularly my boss who is probably one of the smartest, nicest women I have known in the business world, I’m going to actively begin searching for another position in the field of corporate or public communications/public relations. Securing such a position would bring me back to the real me, and as the song goes, I gotta be me.

Just making this decision lifts a huge weight off my shoulders. I’m now on a personal communications mission, and the subject I’m highlighting is me! What better way to exercise my rhetorical wings and get them in shape again?

Wish me luck!