Stephen King thinks ‘Carrie’ is a ‘clumsy and artless’ novel

Stephen King’s claim to fame sparked from his first published novel, Carrie. The story centers around a young woman who is the main target of school bullying. With the help of telekinetic powers, Carrie is able to get revenge on all of the kids that wronged her. The story has become an iconic classic over the years, and decades since its release, people still can’t stop talking about it. But as much as people love the book, King thinks his first novel is a “clumsy and artless” read. 

Carrie Movie
Carrie Movie | Film Publicity Archive/Getty Images

Stephen King threw his first manuscript of ‘Carrie’ in the trash

As told by King’s memoir, he famously tossed his original manuscript of Carrie in the garbage. After writing three pages, the horror author decided it wasn’t good enough and that the story wasn’t worth pursuing any further. Yet his wife, Tabitha King, thought otherwise. 

Because she believed in her husband’s talent, she encouraged King to continue writing Carrie. (This was, of course, after finding his manuscript in the trash bin.)

“You’ve got something here,” she told him. “I think you really do.” 

Tabitha should know, considering she’s also an incredibly successful writer. The two met at the University of Maine while working in the local library together. Their mutual love of art and literature bonded them like nothing else. Tabitha and King have been happily married since 1971, sharing three children. 

Stephen King wasn’t crazy about how ‘Carrie’ turned out

Sissy Spacek In 'Carrie'
Sissy Spacek attends her high school prom in the Brian De Palma horror classic ‘Carrie’ based on the Stephen King novel in 1976 | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Believe it or not, King isn’t the biggest fan of his own novel. Although he’s eternally grateful for the book that launched his entire career, the author has referred to Carrie as “clumsy and artless.” In a 1983 interview with Playboy Magazine, King says, “I’m the first to admit that it is often clumsy and artless. But both creatively and financially, Carrie was a kind of escape hatch for Tabby and me, and we were able to flee through it into a totally different existence.” 

Before King’s first novel was published, he and Tabitha lived in a trailer park and were “as poor as church mice.” Writing Carrie was both a creative pursuit and an attempt to gain financial success. It’s safe to say King’s attempts worked, because he is now one of the wealthiest authors of all time with a current net worth of $500 million.

Stephen King doesn’t like Carrie White as a character

Carrie White
Carrie White, played by Sissy Spacek, is unexpectedly elected prom queen in Brian De Palma’s horror film ‘Carrie’, 1976 | Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

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Although he likes some aspects of his novel, the horror author admits that he never grew to like Carrie White as a character. Despite being able to sympathize with her, he couldn’t “emotionally connect” to his novel. In his memoir, On Writing, King says, 
“I never got to like Carrie White, and I never trusted Sue Snell’s motives in sending her boyfriend to the prom with her, but I did have something there. Like a whole career. Tabby somehow knew it, and by the time I had piled up fifty single-spaced pages, I knew it, too. For one thing, I didn’t think any of the characters who went to Carrie White’s prom would ever forget it. Those few who lived through it, that was.”