Tuesday, May 28, 2013

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

I happened upon this book while at my local bookstore and I was surprised that I had never come across this book before. Naturally I bought it, which was probably one of the best decisions of my life. It has rekindled my desire to write and even, to start reading again on a regular basis.

Stephen King separates this book into three different sections. The first section encompasses the memoir of his life and writing experiences from early childhood on. It was really interesting to see how he became a writer and to see snippets of his childhood. The stories in there made me laugh and broke my heart on several occasions. One of the most poignant memories he writes about is his near fatal car accident in the "Post Script" chapter of his book. I remembered it vaguely when it happened, since I was in college and living it up at the time, but had no idea how serious it was. I was stunned and extremely happy that he survived it and continued writing.

The next section is all about your "Toolbox". King describes the type of writing tools you should have and how they should be organized in your "toolbox". I think a great quote from this section is as follows:

     "I want to suggest that to write to your best abilities, it behooves you to construct your own toolbox and then build up enough muscle so you can carry it with you. Then, instead of looking at a hard job and getting discouraged, you will perhaps seize the correct tool and get immediately to work" (Page 114).

This spoke to me because I seem to always find an excuse that it is too difficult to write what I want, which allows me to never follow through and stop writing that particular story completely. Maybe all I really needed was to find that right writing tool that would have revealed the true beauty of what I wanted to say, allowing an amazing story to be told. After reading this chapter, I have taken his advice on an additional book to own and believe that I am on my way to obtaining all the "tools" that I need and will have my "toolbox" organized in such a way that writing will come much more easily for me than it does now.

The third and final section of the book is titled "On Writing". In this section King talks about everything related to writing. Are you are having issues with story development? You can find answers to that here. You want to know about revising and how to do it; you can find all that here as well. This section will also talk about agents and getting published. There is so much good advice in this section it is hard to choose only one thing that really spoke to me. However, something that I had overlooked was the fact that I should try to get published on the small scale through magazines first. Writing shorter pieces to get published in magazines will definitely help me in determining what the public is willing to read and what publishers are truly looking for. Something else that stuck with me was when King talked about "you have to sometimes kill your Darlings". No one ever likes to cut out passages in your pieces that you think are terribly clever, but it is sometimes necessary to make the piece stronger and better.

Overall, I think what I liked the most about this book was the language. It felt like I was sitting with Stephen King in his den drinking a cup of delicious tea while reminiscing like a couple of old friends. The prose in this book is just extraordinary and spoke to you instead of at you. It made you want to be a part of the conversation taking place, which is something that is not easy for most writers to accomplish with their readers. If you are a writer, especially a fiction writer, this is one book you should not pass up reading. I urge you to read this and have your own personal conversation with Stephen King. You won't regret it.

Rating: 5 out 5 stars

This book was personally purchased at a local bookstore; I was not asked to do a review on it.

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