A Little Too Eerie for Me

In his book, "On Writing," Stephen King compares writing fiction to paleontology. Stories, he wrote, "are found things, like fossils in the ground." The writer's job is to dig them up.

In the early 1980, King found this fossil. A writer named Paul Sheldon has his legs and pelvis shattered--make that "pulverized"-- in a car accident. They are broken in so many places that they have to be held together with steel rods.

He is rescued by a lunatic fan, who, after saving his life, demands that Sheldon write a novel specifically for her. So, setting aside his newest novel, "Fast Cars," and despite excruciating, soul searing pain from his wrecked body, he writes a book for her and in the end, outlasts her for long enough to escape. King describes Sheldon's physical agony and long, drawn out recovery, in graphic detail--you'd swear it's almost from firsthand experience. The result was Misery

Here's where it gets weird.

On June 19, 1999, more than 15 years first unearthing the Paul Sheldon fossil, King was walking along the shoulder of Maine's Route 5 when he was hit by a van and nearly killed. His hip was shattered, and his right leg was pulverized--reduced to "so many marbles in a sock," as King described it. The description of the pain, the leg held together by rods, and the agony of writing in that condition--King finished "On Writing" while wheelchair bound--could have been taken right out of Misery. (He also had just finished a book with a car-related title--"From a Buick 8")

The circumstances are different of course. Sheldon fictional crashed was self induced, the result of driving drunk during a snowstorm. Kings didn't break both legs, only one. And the real life accident nearly cost King his life, and 15 months later, the driver, Bryan Smith would be found dead in his bed at the end of a rough and tragic life.

Still the similarities are eerie. Coincidental? Maybe.

Maybe not.

A word to the wise--if you come across a fossil about a writer with busted legs, don't dig it up. Just walk on by, while you can.


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