First, I want to start off with an apology. Some where in the world is a very thoughtful and kind person that, at one time, recommend I read this book, and for the life of me I can not remember who that was. If it was you, I thank you.
I have mentioned it before that when I get involved in something I want to read and study as much about it as possible. I feel reading others thoughts on a subject, or the observations of those that have already done what I am looking to do, gives me a better understanding and allows me to be as successful as I can. So the more serious I got at wanting to write a novel the more serious I got about reading about writing a novel. As my introduction tells you, someone suggested I read On Writing by Stephen King, and I am glad I took the time to do so.
On Writing is part memoir and part teaching material about the craft of writing. Stephen King has had a typical, yet extraordinary journey to becoming one of the top writers of my life time. I have enjoyed several of his books, from Nightmares and Dreamscapes to The Green Mile. Of course his movies are on my list of favorites, The Shining, The Stand and Running Man were awesome, not to mention the scares I bare from Salem’s Lot, IT and Cujo. I am watching the current TV series Under The Dome and found it fascinating how little it sticks to the book, yet it is still very entertaining.
So to read a memoir of sorts was very eye opening. When you read about how Stephen was a single moment away from giving up on writing, yet with his wife’s support, he stuck to it and our lives are all better for it. I also was amazed about how down to Earth Stephen comes across in his book. His thoughts and ideas are so amazing that they come across as common sense.
His teaching material and his dissection of the craft of writing are both inspirational and humbling at the same time. There are so many memorable quotes and thoughts you can take away from this book. some of my favorites are:
“Let me say it again: You must not come lightly to the blank page.”
“you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”
“Let’s get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”
And I could go on and on listing these quotes, but you are better off just reading the book.
I would say that among the many things I will take away from this book is his advice about grammar. Stephen tells us to not force fancy words into our stories, and that better grammar is best learned through reading. He constantly talks about being honest to your readers and we can best be honest when we use the words we know. So use the voice you have now and it will improve over time, don’t force it. OK, one more quote:
“You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.”
This will be a book that I will read over and over again. I can see gleaming some new truth from it each time you do, and I plan to get as much from it as I can.
Until next time…