Thanks to my mother, I’ve finally been able to read Stephen King’s book “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” and for anyone interested in writing, I cannot recommend the book enough.
Until you read the book, it’s kind of hard to understand how good it is, and even after reading it, I find it hard to truly describe what makes it so good. The book is part autobiography, and part philosophy of writing. Even though I’m not a huge fan of King, (I am far from fanatical about anything he’s done, except maybe “The Shawshank Redemption” which is based off his novella “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption“) I really enjoyed reading the biographical parts of the book; they’re funny, insightful and honest. But the best parts were the ones where he gets down to the nitty-gritty on writing.
Contrary to what most aspiring authors might want, this book is anything but a how-to manual on becoming a writer. King gives a background on how he became a published author and he even gives a basic example of how others have, but mostly he shares his wisdom on what it takes to write a good story. The funny thing is, even though I’ve heard most of it before, or figured it out for myself over the past several year, it’s the way he shares his knowledge that really hits it home. I could try to paraphrase everything he says in this book, and you can find others who have pretty much done so in different “How to be a writer” type blogs and discussion boards, but it won’t have the same impact. King’s ability to say just the right things in just the right way is uncanny.
And honestly, I didn’t really gather any new advice from reading “On Writing” but it did have a great impact on me. Most of what I read just helped validate or reiterate what I’ve learned these past few years as I wrote my books; but that validation was more valuable than I would have expected. And if I did learn anything from reading this book, it’s that it is okay to be a writer, and that’s one of the most valuable things I could ever learn.