Sunday, August 30, 2009

On Writing, by Stephen King

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
by, Stephen King
(2000), Scribner
288 pages
ISBN: 978-0684853529


For decades, Stephen King has delighted reading audiences with his shocking tales, powerful prose and frighteningly realistic characters. In the late 90s, King sat down to pen a book on how he became the writers that his is, the lessons he learned and how others can become better writers. After several long years – and a near-fatal encounter with a van – King completed On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.

I’m going to just come out and say it - if you are a writer, you must read this. It is both inspirational and educational. It is typical Stephen King bluntness as well and really cuts to the heart of what it takes to be a writer and why you shouldn’t fear writing what you believe in no matter what other people think about it. Successful writers are successful because they are passionate about what they write – not because they are trying to make a buck. This is not a point-by-point how-to book on writing novels. There are plenty of those out there and most of them will bore you to tears. What King offers is a look inside his writing methods and some hard-won insight into what works and what doesn’t in the publishing world. It is divided into several sections. The first gives a history of his writing career that is so funny I was laughing out loud more times than I can count. It is also includes a painful account of the drug and alcohol addiction that nearly killed him and the loving intervention of his wife, Tabitha. He then goes into the tools that a writer needs to develop to do the things that a writer needs to do. The third section is really the meat of the text and shows the methods that King uses to develop a story from idea to finished manuscript. The final section is a very personal account of the horrific accident that nearly ended his life and how the lifelong devotion of his wife Tabitha and his writing – specifically finishing this memoir – contributed to his return to life. On Writing is a much a deeply personal memoir as it is a dialog on getting the most out of your writing. It is a book that I will read again and again as inspiration for my own writing. I recommend it to everybody, but most especially to every aspiring writer. If this story doesn’t send you to your keyboard with renewed motivation, you probably want to find a new pursuit.

One final note – my copy of On Writing was an advance reader copy. Yes, it’s been hidden away for nearly ten years and this is the first time I have read it. The strange thing is that I have no memory of how I ever received the ARC in the first place. It still has a postage-paid return card with it, too. Either way, I’m not parting with it and I will be rereading it quite often I’m sure.

You can read more of my reviews here.


Dana said...

Oh, this is on my list to read! I'm glad to hear that it is actually as good as they say!

stacy said...

My copy of this book is water-stained and falling apart. I go back to read some passages again and again. For me, King is one of those writers that delivers on his promise and then some.