by Jay Wilburn
The plan is to reread all of Stephen King’s works in the order that they were published. Richard Chizmar of Cemetery Dance had the vision. I’m doing it because I am a writer and I want to improve my long fiction. I think there is something to be learned through this challenge. As Richard Chizmar and Bev Vincent put up their posts on the official site, I will link those in the corresponding ones of mine on this blog.
The next piece is his short story collection, Night Shift.
Let’s take a look at the Night Shift …
I will strive to be spoiler free as much as possible dealing with specific examples in a general way, but I will be discussing content in these blog posts. So, you have been warned.
I read a number of these stories in isolation. I remember many of them from those readings, but not specifically when I read them. I owned a copy of Night Shift at some time later. I read a few more of the stories, but not all that I can recall. Maybe I’ll remember more of them once I start reading again and realize that I left them buried in the back of my mind all these years.
The copy I own now is one that I picked up along the way here as I prepared for this adventure of revisiting the work of Stephen King. That original copy was back from the junior college days. I went to a small, two-year Baptist school in north Georgia. Everyone went home on the weekends, so I was mostly alone on the empty campus every weekend. There was a used bookstore in town. I would walk to town to maybe get a sandwich and pick up cheap books to read. Night Shift was one of those. Usually I kept the Stephen King books I picked up, but I apparently traded this one back in for some new reading somewhere in one of those lonely weekends. It appears I did so before reading all the stories. One of many regrettable decision from the college years, I suppose.
Most writers start with short stories before novels. King is particularly skilled at the short story form compared to many authors out there. He might have defined modern horror in that form in many people’s minds. No disrespect intended to other great short story writers.
King has another short story out recently for free online. It is called Cookie Jar. Still very good and shows his continued expertise with the form.
As much as I push myself to write novels, there is still something about the process of writing a short story that draws me. If I could make a million dollars on every story I wrote regardless of all other factors, maybe I would be writing all short stories. I don’t know. Even as a full-time writer that has to make economic choices about writing many times, I will still pull up on other work to turn back to short stories for myself. There is a certain energy that enters my spirit as I take the time to craft a short story for one reason or another.
I love King’s short story collections. I am sometimes more excited when I hear a new collection is coming out as opposed to a new novel. There is a different sort of dark magic that appears on the page when King weaves a short story. It will be interesting to see how that magic started with these earliest shorts.
Let’s begin the Night Shift …
I’ll keep you posted,
— Jay Wilburn, writer
Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in Conway, South Carolina near the Atlantic coast of the southern United States. He has a Masters Degree in education and he taught public school for sixteen years before becoming a full time writer. He is the author of many short stories including work in Best Horror of the Year volume 5, Zombies More Recent Dead, Shadows Over Mainstreet, and Truth or Dare. He is the author of the Dead Song Legend Dodecology and the music of the five song soundtrack recorded as if by the characters within the world of the novel The Sound May Suffer. He also wrote the novels Loose Ends and Time Eaters. He is one of the four authors behind the Hellmouth trilogy. He cowrote The Enemy Held Near with Armand Rosamilia. Jay Wilburn is a regular columnist with Dark Moon Digest. Follow his many dark thoughts on Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope as @AmongTheZombies, his Facebook author page, and at JayWilburn.com